Versatile sportsman Willie Londt, 81, recalls the past

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BY CLEMENT DU PLESSIS

THIS is the final chapter of a two-part series about former star athlete, the 81-year-old William Londt recounting his athletics days in the 1950s.

(Read part 1: Willie Londt’s impressive feats stand tall)

LONDT also played rugby for Northerns (Parow, Cape Town) before the impact of the Group Areas Act was felt there, too.

As a result, rugby clubs were broken up. Some continued to exist and new clubs had to be started, including finding new “sports fields” in coloured areas.

King's Park, Durban.
The 1959 list of officials and teams for the national athletics championships at King’s Park, Durban.

The Act affected all codes of sports, but more importantly, it uprooted families from their homes in what had now been declared “white areas”.

Athletics and cricket

Londt’s love for sport did not diminish under these circumstances although he had to travel far and wide across the Peninsula to rugby, cricket and athletics events because of the migrating effects of the Act.

Londt used athletics to keep himself fit.

“I had time for both cricket and athletics in the summer season.  The two disciplines were at different times of the season,” says Londt.

Peter Forbes
Peter Forbes, the senior champion miler of the 1950s in his Western Province blazer.

He remembers competing in athletics at the Agricultural Grounds in Goodwood.

As a senior athlete, Londt recalls the duels between Aljy Winn and Gus Jacobs in the sprints.

“Gus couldn’t match Winn. He was very good – he was thinner than Gus but he was faster. Winn lived in Rondebosch East, but he disappeared off the scene,” says Londt.

He remembers, too, the accomplishments of Peter Forbes who was the champion distance runner in 1955 in the quarter mile, mile and half mile and “even longer”.

St Augustine’s

 At the time, the athletic meetings were held under the auspices of the South African Amateur and Cycling Board of Control.

He stopped with athletics in the 1960’s but continued to play cricket and rugby in the 1970’s.

Born in 1935, Londt attended St Augustine’s primary and secondary school up until Std 8 between 1942 and 1952.

The school also had a teachers’ college where you could study for a primary lower certificate.

After completing Std 8, Londt enrolled at Trafalgar High School near central Cape Town in 1953.

Willie Londt
Student teacher Willie Londt puts a group of students through their paces in the physical training class at Wesley Training College in Salt River in 1956.

He completed his matric there, and on the insistence of his mother returned to St Augustine’s to do the teacher’s course.

“My mother wasn’t happy with me attending Hewat as it had been close to the Canterbury Hotel, a renowned watering-hole,” says Londt somewhat tongue-in-cheek.

Physical Education

He then proceeded to Wesley Training College in Salt River in 1956.

“Here I completed my primary higher certificate in Physical Education, which was a specialised course. Norman Stoffberg, Cecil Blows and Gus Jacobs studied here, too,” says Londt.

Willie Londt
Flyhalf Willie Londt had a feared left boot. He was also an exceptional athlete and cricketer.

C.A. Victor was the lecturer at the time.

“He was very good as a Phys Ed lecturer and eventually became an Inspector of Phys Ed,” says Londt. Victor was a white lecturer.

In 1957, Londt, as a qualified Phys Ed teacher, taught Std 2 to 8 at Augustine’s.

Emigrate

“That was a lovely school to teach at. It had a beautiful gymnasium.  I taught here until 1970.”

Inspectors De Villiers and Steyn were on his back in 1970 and told Londt to go to Hewat Training College as a Phys Ed lecturer.

“They told me that Stoffberg was going to emigrate to Canada.

“But when I got there (Hewat), his emigration was not through yet, the college kept him on, so we were three, instead of two lecturers,” recalls Londt.

Herman Gibbs
Herman Gibbs, the Alexander Sinton High School and Hewat Training College sprinter of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Londt remembers having a student teacher by the name of Herman Gibbs in his class.

“I had Herman Gibbs in my Phys Ed class while I was a Phys Ed lecturer there in 1971 and 1972. I had him,” remembers Londt.

Gibbs, of course, was the reputable sprint champion of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.

Leadership

While at Hewat, Londt was the convenor of the A-Section at the Green Point Track in 1971.

“Cyril Beukes took advantage of that and announced that this is a one-man organised competition and we must appreciate Mr Londt for that.”

Beukes is also a retired Inspector of Education.

Londt’s leadership abilities could not be ignored whether on the playing fields or in education.

He ascended to the position of school principal in 1973.

“When I left Hewat, I became a school principal of a Catholic School in Koelenhof for two years. The school is at the end of Bottelary Road, bordering Stellenbosch,” explains Londt.

He was principal of the school for two years before moving St Raphael’s in Athlone, Cape Town where he was principal from 1975 to 1993.

Willie Londt's name appears in the 1955 national programme. The meeting was held in Paarl.
Willie Londt of Western Province name appears in the 1955 national programme. The meeting was held in Paarl.

Londt became an inspector of education, a position he held for two years from 1993-1995 at which time he retired.

“As an inspector I was able to travel around the country to the schools. I started working in Kimberley,” says Londt.

Education

Londt is married to Ruth Elizabeth Peters whom he met at St Augustine’s.  They tied the knot in 1963 and have three children.

Londt studied for a BA and B.Ed degree while advancing his career as an educationist.

His son Edward is a teacher at Prestwich Primary School in central Cape Town.

His eldest daughter Deidre Londt is the Director General of Local Affairs in Gauteng. She has a master’s degree in local government administration.

His baby daughter Cecilia Londt-Bauer is married and has a law degree.

One thought on “Versatile sportsman Willie Londt, 81, recalls the past

  • April 24, 2018 at 4:20 am
    Permalink

    Dear Publisher, Wonderful to have these stories documented so that the Gen Xers and the Millenials know of the achievements of their forebears.

    Reply

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