Abrie de Swardt, an academic at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) George Campus and well-known George resident, was recently inducted into the South African Athletic Coaches Hall of Fame.
The South African Athletics Statisticians (SAAS) decided in 2008 to honour South Africa’s leading coaches in the Hall of Fame for the role they played in developing athletics in South Africa. Only 23 coaches, including Abrie de Swardt, have been acknowledged in this way.
In a career spanning more than three decades, De Swardt has trained several star athletes and coached the South African Olympic team. He was born in George and matriculated at Outeniqua High School. De Swardt obtained his first coaching qualification at the age of 20 and has worked as a coach, administrator and lecturer at various South African tertiary institutions, lecturing, amongst others, in Human Movement Sciences at the George Campus of NMMU.
De Swardt was a leading figure in Free State University’s emergence as a force in the middle distances from the mid-1970’s to mid-1980’s. He was also a full time national coach/organiser at the SAAAU in 1983 -1984 and was the national coordinating coach for the middle and long distances from 1982 -1993.
Together with his colleague, Ian Harries, De Swardt was the first South African to qualify as an IAAF Coaches Lecturer and Course Director in 1994. He has travelled the world since South Africa’s readmission to international athletics to help qualify coaches in IAAF’s coaches’ development programme. He was acknowledged for his contribution to the global development of coaches with a special award from the International Track and Field Coaches Association in 2004.
Since 1969 to date this sport legend has served as president, vice-president or executive member on provincial and national bodies of a number of sport codes – a truly deserving recipient of the most recent accolade bestowed on him.
He has recently been appointed Chairperson of the Western Cape Commission of Coaches, and is en-route to the Commonwealth Games in Scotland.