ASA mourns loss of founding president Leonard Chuene

Former Athletics SA president Leonard Chuene has died.
Former Athletics SA president Leonard Chuene has died.
Image: Gallo Images

Athletics SA paid tribute to its founding president, Leonard Chuene who passed away on Friday, aged 68.

Chuene was at the forefront with Banele Sindani and other colleagues in the unification process in the 1990s.

He was respected for the major role he played in these unity talks and transformation of athletics in the early 1990s. 

He took helm of ASA in 1995 after the historic unification of South Africa Athletics Congress and South African Amateur Athletics Union and led until 2011.

"His passion for development and transformation were his leading qualities that led the seasoned administrator being elected in 1999 into the Council of the International Association of Athletics Federations (now called Wold Athletics) as the Africa Representative where he contributed until he voluntarily withdrew in 2009," read a release from ASA.

"At that time, he was also an influential senior member of the Confederation of Africa Athletics (CAA) as a regional representative."

He was an avid road runner, who continued to run during his tenure as ASA president under the colours of Diepkloof Athletics Club where he was chairman for many years, a club that produced several provincial and national professionals and stars.

Alongside the late Banele Sindani, Boycie Ntlwane and others, Chuene created the Soweto Marathon, which is one of the most popular races in Africa. He stopped running because of a nagging knee injury.

“On behalf of the athletics family, we convey our deepest condolences to the Chuene family, friends and his former colleagues in the sporting fraternity,” said ASA president Aleck Skhosana.

“He was a great administrator who would not shy away from confrontational issues to pave the way for our athletes and this is how we prefer to remember him. 

"From his early days as president of ASA, he fought the struggle to correct the wrongs created by apartheid which had marginalised many talented athletes according to racial profiling from accessing national team colours.

"He had a robust way of engagement when dealing with issues he had a passion for. And because of that, Leonard Chuene will always be in our hearts."

“ASA, who has been in communication with the Chuene family, now awaits further details and instructions after the family has convened to begin preparations for burial.”

The Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) said: “The Comrades Marathon Association (CMA) is saddened by the tragic passing of Comrades Marathon honorary member, green number runner and former Athletics SA president Leonard Chuene.

“Leonard completed 12 Comrades Marathons between 1987 and 2000, earning 11 bronze medals and one silver medal. He achieved his best time of 07:19:25 in the 1991 Comrades Marathon down run at the age of 38."

Chuene was replaced as ASA president by James Evans in July 2011.

The position was left vacant after the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) found Chuene and former ASA vice-president Kakata Maponyane guilty of financial impropriety in February.

Chuene was banned from involvement in any sport under the jurisdiction of Sascoc for seven years, and Maponyane was handed a five-year ban.


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