Sprint champions relive glory days


THE year 1968 brought together three of the finest sprinters in South African athletics in Ivan Masters, far right,  Herman Gibbs (centre) and Alex Abercrombie (in green shirt).

They hogged the headlines in the Post and the Cape Herald:

(6000 at Green Point Track)

Gibbs stakes his claim to sprint title

Abercrombie storms home (this headline was across the entire page of the Cape Herald in 1969)

Ivan Masters was not only a sprint champion over the 100 yards and 220 yards, he also held the boys’ open 400m record of 50,5 seconds in 1969 when the conversion was made from the imperial system to the metric system.

Masters who lives in Sydney, Australia, is on a five-week holiday to South Africa.

Gibbs hosted a party in Green Point last night where the three reminisced about the 1960s athletics.

Masters lived in St Gothas Road, Sunnyside and attended Sunnyside Primary School – a top athletics school for decades.

In 1963, Masters and Abercrombie (Sydney Street Primary School in District Six) were household names in athletics.


Masters went to Alexander Sinton High School and Abercrombie to Harold Cressy – two of the prestigious academic and athletic schools in the Cape.

Patrick Steenkamp, who was the head boy at Sinton in 1969, was also Masters’ teammate at Sunnyside Primary.

The two athletes had been selected to the WPSSSU team in 1965 as under 14s, together with Abercrombie.

Abercrombie and Masters dominated in 1965, 1966, 1967 and 1968 at the A -Section and Champion of Champions.

Gibbs joined Masters at Sinton in 1968 from Wesley School in Salt River. After 1969, Gibbs continued as an athlete at the Hewat Training College where he set the WPSSSU boys open sprint records in 1971.

The three champion sprinters enjoyed a sensational rivalry at high school and club level in 1968 and 1969.

Ivan Masters, Herman Gibbs and Alex Abercrombie.

Last night, though, was all about memories, banter and a good laugh.

Masters returns to Australia on 15 January. He left Cape Town, South Africa in 1982 with his wife and six-year-old daughter. A further two children, a son and daughter were born in Australia.

Before then, the three former athletes will enjoy a round of golf courtesy of Gibbs.

* In the new year, Athletics Clipboard brings you the story of Alex Abercrombie, the champion sprinter, high jump record holder, footballer, administrator, businessman and barrister.

3 thoughts on “Sprint champions relive glory days

  • February 26, 2019 at 9:51 pm

    Dear Publisher.

    How about article on Hendrik Moses?

  • December 29, 2018 at 12:21 pm

    Dear Publisher, How nice to see Masters, Gibbs and Abercrombie having a good time with lots of laughter after all those years.

  • December 29, 2018 at 11:59 am

    Dear Publisher, We had another crop of athletes (sprinters) a year younger than them, namely Jackie Swanepoel, Lawrence Jacobs, Sediek Kalam and myself.


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