by Leo Benning (’52)
South Africa’s second oldest Masters Athlete, 98 year old Connor Johnston passed away this past Monday from old age. He was not on any medication and was not suffering from any illness, he just faded away. In the last year or so of his life he showed no interest in anything and had become very forgetful. Steve Johnston (‘65), his son and a top field athlete in South Africa supplied the following:
Up until the age of about 93 he had been a very active walker and at the World Veteran Championships in Hanover, Germany, in 1979 Johnston M70 won both walks, the 10km and 20km road walks in 1:01.01 (a championship record) and 2:07:54.7 respectively. There was no 5000m walk at these championships. For these achievements he received the SA State President’s Award. He still holds a number of Western Province 5000m and 20km records and his M70 5000m time of 29:08.8 and M70 20km of 2:07.54.7 are still South African records.
Johnston served in the Second World War in North Africa and wrote a book on his experiences there called `Camouflage in the Desert` about 5 years ago. He worked as an architect until he was 79. He had also worked as an architect in New Zealand from 1961 to the early eighties
For a number of years he was the president of the Western Province Masters Athletics Association in Cape Town. Due to a serious knee injury sustained in a car accident in 1982 his very efficient walking style was badly affected. A subsequent operation did not eliminate the problem entirely and Johnston could not straighten his knee properly but this did not stop him from participating in the sport he loved so much. He was knocked down by a drunken motorist while he was competing in a walking race in Rondebosch, Cape Town and was badly injured. A true gentleman of our sport has departed from this world. It was a privilege to have known him.
SACS was proud of Connor Johnston!