Gert Potgieter (athlete)

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Gert Potgieter
Medal record
Men's Athletics
Representing  South Africa
British Empire and Commonwealth Games
Gold medal – first place 1958 Cardiff 440 yards hurdles
Gold medal – first place 1958 Cardiff 4x440 yards relay

Gerhardus Cornelius Potgieter (born 16 April 1937 in Pietermaritzburg, Natal, South Africa) is a retired South African Track and field athletics competitor, primarily known for the 400 metre and 440 yard hurdles.[1] His innovation was to run 14 steps between the hurdles (alternating legs at each).[2] For perspective, 1980's legend Edwin Moses' innovation was to run 13 steps. Current world record holder Kevin Young was able to achieve 12 steps between some hurdles.

He did participate in the 1956 Summer Olympics at the age of 19 and was in third position until he fell over the final hurdle, ultimately finishing sixth.

In 1957 he ran the 440 yard hurdles in 50.7 at an event in Queenstown, Eastern Cape. Only two days later was the public informed that it was a new world record.[2]

At the 1958 Commonwealth Games, he improved his record to 49.73. At 23 he, had achieved the world's best time in the event: 49.3, but on a single turn, oversized track which disqualified any official world record. Potgeiter was a favorite for the gold medal[3] at the 1960 Summer Olympics, but was seriously injured in an automobile accident in Germany two weeks before,[4] effectively ending his career at the age of 23. Despite a partial loss of sight, after years of physical therapy, he did manage to return to win the South African championship in the decathlon in 1966. After 1956's disappointment in Melbourne, he proceeded to hit the world record four times.

He married German Olympian Renate Junker in 1962.[5] A guest of the wedding was politician Pik Botha, who had his car stolen during the wedding.[2]


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 1 September 2009. Retrieved 2010-02-28.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) Sports Reference
  2. ^ a b c Sy eerste wêreldrekord bly twee dae lank geheim Beeld article retrieved 22 February 2015
  3. ^,1539691 New York Times[dead link]
  4. ^ Findling, John E.; Pelle, Kimberly D. (2004). Encyclopedia of the Modern Olympic Movement. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 159. ISBN 9780313322785.
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 25 October 2012. Retrieved 2010-02-28.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) Sports Reference Junker