Sports: Famous sporting personalities that died in 2009

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Sporting personalities who died in 2009:


Toni Sailer

Austrian alpine skiing legend died aged 73 after a long illness. Nicknamed the "Blitz from Kitz" Sailer - who later enjoyed some success as a singer and actor - enjoyed massive success during his six-year career in skiing winning three gold medals at the age of 20 in the 1956 Winter Olympics in the Italian resort of Cortina d'Ampezzo and seven world titles, four at Cortina in 1956 and three at Badgastein, Austria two years later.


Steve McNair

Former National Football League quarterback for the Tennessee Titans and Baltimore Ravens was shot dead aged 36. A three-time Pro Bowl selection, McNair shared the most valuable player of the NFL award in 2003. In 161 games (153 starts), McNair threw for 31,304 yards on 2,733- of-4,544 passing, with 174 touchdowns. He also ran for 3,590 career yards and 37 TDs. McNair last played in the NFL in 2007 for the Ravens.

Brad Van Pelt

Linebacker who died of an apparent heart attack aged 57. Van Pelt played 14 NFL seasons, including 1973 through 1983 with the New York Giants where he was part of the famed "Crunch Bunch", a hard-hitting group of linebackers that also included Harry Carson, Brian Kelley and legend Lawrence Taylor.


Abe Pollin

Pollen the doyen of NBA owners having owned the Washington Wizards for over 40 years died aged 85. He suffered from a rare brain disorder affecting his balance and movement. Pollen never received the rewards for his loyalty to the franchise - which he first bought as the Baltimore Bullets in 1964 - winning just one NBA Crown in 1978. Also took them to China in 1979, making them the first NBA team to make the trip.


Alexis Arguello

Nicaraguan boxing legend committed suicide by shooting himself through the heart aged 57. He was a national hero who was elected mayor of Managua last November but had been sufferring from depression. Arguello was one of the world's dominant boxers in the 1970s and 1980s reigning as WBA featherweight champion from 1974 to 1976, WBC lightwelterweight champion from 1978 to 1980 and WBC lightweight champion from 1981 to 1983.

Arturo Gatti

Italy-born naturalised Canadian two-time world champion committed suicide while on holiday with his family aged 37, though, initially his wife was under suspicion of murdering him. He retired in 2007 with a record of 40-9 with 31 knockouts. Gatti won the International Boxing Federation super featherweight title in 1995 and captured the World Boxing Council junior welterweight crown in 2004.

Jose Torres

Former light heavyweight world boxing champion died aged 72 of a heart attack. Torres won a silver medal while fighting for the United States at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics and in 1965 knocked out Willie Pastrano to win the World Boxing Council and World Boxing Association light heavyweight titles. Defended them three times before being mauled by Nigerian Dick Tiger.


Jobie Dajka

Australian 2002 keirin world champion was found dead aged 27 after a long battle with alcoholism and depression. He also won a gold medal in the team sprint at the 2002 Commonwealth Games but was dropped from Australia's 2004 Athens Olympic team for lying to a doping inquiry. He was then barred from the sport for three years in 2005 for assaulting Australia's national track coach Martin Barras, although the ban was lifted ahead of schedule in 2006 on condition he seek medical treatment.

Zinaida Stahurskaya

Belarus' 2000 world road race women's champion died aged 38 after being struck by an out of control car while she was on a training ride. According to initial reports the woman driving the car, which came from the opposite direction, had fallen asleep at the wheel.

Frank Vandenbroucke

Highly-talented Belgian cyclist but with a habit of self destructing died aged 34 while on holiday in Senegal aged 34. He won 51 races during his career including the 1999 Liege-Bastogne-Liege classic, but suffered from depression and tried two years ago to commit suicide after his wife said she was divorcing him.


Alan A'Court

Former Liverpool and England winger died at the age of 75. He made 381 Liverpool appearances and scored 63 goals in an 11-year spell at Anfield after signing in 1952. He won five England caps and was part of England's 1958 World Cup squad, despite Liverpool being in the Second Division at the time.

Giacomo Bulgarelli

Former Italy international midfielder died aged 68 following a long illness. Bulgarelli played for only one club - Bologna with whom he won the Serie A title in 1964 - during a career that saw him play almost 400 Serie A matches, and was a European champion with Italy in 1968. He played for his country 27 times, scoring seven goals, and played in the World Cups of 1962 and 1966.

Robert Enke

German international goalkeeper Robert Enke committed suicide aged 32. Enke had been suffering from depression for several years but had returned to the Hannover 96 first team prior to his death and was likely to be Germany's number one goalkeeper at the World Cup finals. He left a widow and a daughter of eight months who they adopted in May three years after their two-year-old daughter died of a heart illness.

Dani Jarque

Captain of Spanish top flight side Espanyol died of a heart attack while on a pre-season training camp in Italy aged 26. Jarque had played for Espanyol since the 2002-2003 season. He was a member of the team - Barcelona's less well off city rivals - which won the Spanish Cup in 2006 and who were UEFA Cup finalists in 2007.

Sir Bobby Robson

Arguably England's finest manager since Sir Alf Ramsey he died aged 76 after a long and heroic battle with cancer. Robson, whose first brush with the disease that would ultimately claim him was in 1992, led England to the World Cup semi-finals in 1990 following the controversial loss to Argentina - Diego Maradona's 'Hand of God' goal - in the 1986 quarter-finals. Robson, whose father was a miner, had started to learn to be a pit engineer when he avoided a career underground by signing for Fulham, aged 17.

Robert Louis-Dreyfus

Marseille football club owner who died after a long battle with leukemia aged 63. Born in Paris, but naturalised as a Swiss citizen in 1995, Louis-Dreyfus took over the then ailing football giants in 1996 having previously been the director of major sportswear companies Adidas and Salomon and CEO of British-based advertising company Saatchi & Saatchi. He ploughed some 200 million euros of his own money into the club over a 12-year period but success on the pitch proved elusive.

David Will

A former President of the Scottish Football Association (SFA) who also served as a vice-president of FIFA, died of cancer aged 72.


Yukio Endo

Japan's first Olympic individual gymnastics gold medallist died aged 72 of gullet cancer. Endo, who helped Japan to win the men's team gold in the 1960 Olympics, became the first Olympic individual overall champion at the Tokyo Olympics in 1964 to break the Soviet Union's domination in the sport. He added the horizontal bar gold, the team gold and the floor silver medals in Tokyo. He defended the team title and won the vault silver four years later in Mexico to lead Japan's gymnastics golden days.


Bobby Frankel

Hall of Fame horse racing trainer died of leukemia aged 68. Frankel saddled six Breeders' Cup winners and won a Triple Crown race, capturing the 2003 Belmont Stakes with Empire Maker. The win denied Funny Cide a Triple Crown. In all His horses won 3,654 races in 17,657 starts, with earnings of 227.94 million dollars.

Vincent O'Brien

Widely regarded as the greatest racehorse trainer of all time, died aged 92. The Irish genius secured 16 English and 27 Irish Classic victories, 25 Royal Ascot wins and displaying his all round ability 23 Cheltenham Festival successes during his 51-year career. He also trained three Grand National winners and will forever be remembered for his partnership with owner/breeder Robert Sangster and jockey Lester Piggott.


Bill Chadwick

A Hall of Fame referee and the first US-born official in the National Hockey League, died aged 94. Nicknamed "The Big Whistle" and blind in his right eye, was an NHL official from 1939 to 1955 who invented the hand signals system now used worldwide to show which penalty infractions have been committed.


Rena 'Rusty' Kanokogi

Dubbed the "Mother of Judo" for helping shepherd women's judo into the Olympic Games, died aged 74 after a three-year battle with leukemia. Kanokogi competed in judo against men in the 1950s and helped create the first Women's World Judo Championships, which were held in 1980 in New York and coached the US women's judo team at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul. On November 24, 2008, Kanokogi received the prestigious Emperor's Order of the Rising Sun for her contribution to Japanese society.


Jack Poole

Canadian businessman who brought the 2010 Winter Olympics to Vancouver, died aged 76 after battling pancreatic cancer. His death came the day after the flame for the Vancouver Games was lit in Olympia, Greece. An avid sports fan, philanthropist, developer and businessman, Poole was instrumental in bringing the Games to Vancouver as chair and CEO of the Vancouver 2010 Bid Corporation.


Shawn Mackay

ACT Brumbies forward died after suffering cardiac arrest in hospital just over a week after he was hit by an armed response car while on tour in South Africa aged 26. Mackay had been a regular on the international Rugby Sevens circuit for five years and made six Super 14 appearances for the NSW Waratahs before switching to the Brumbies.

Duncan Paterson

Made his name as scrum-half for Scotland, winning 10 caps between 1969 and 1972 and when his playing days were over he became the national team manager. He oversaw the side's march to fourth place at the 1991 World Cup and he was also in charge in South Africa four years later. Paterson, whose nephew Chris Paterson is Scotland's most-capped player and record points scorer, also served on the SRU's general committee. He died from a heart attack aged 66.


Jack Kramer

A three-time Grand Slam winner and a major US tennis star in the 1940s died aged 88 of cancer. Kramer was world number one in the late 1940s, winning the 1947 Wimbledon title and the 1946 and 1947 US championships, forerunner of the US Open. A lover of racing he owned over 100 racehorses, Kramer also captured seven Slam doubles titles, all at Wimbledon or in New York but retired in 1954 due to arthritis in his back.


Nikola Stanchev

Bulgarian sporting icon when as a freestyle wrestler he became Bulgaria's first Olympic champion died aged 78. Stanchev won a gold medal in his 79-kilogramme weight division at the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne and the same year he also won a silver medal at the World Championships in Istanbul.