27 July 1902, Fire at the Town Hall.
27 July 1952, Kimberley’s Esther Brand wins gold for high jump at Olympics.
Pictured are the three medalists from the Women’s high jump at the Helsinki Olympics in 1952. From the left: Sheila Lerwill (Silver), Esther Brand (Gold) and Aleksandra Tshudina (Bronze). Also pictured is Esther Brand being carried shoulder high after winning the gold medal.
Esther Brand wins Gold Medal at the Olympics
Esther Cornelia Brand was born in Springbok, Northern Cape, on 29 September 1922, and attended Maitland High School in Cape Town, South Africa. She mainly competed in the high jump and won the gold medal for South Africa at the 1952 Summer Olympics held in Helsinki, Finland. She died after a fall at Bloemfontein on 22 June 2015, aged 92 years.
Brand broke the world high jump record in 1941 and won the gold medal for the high jump at the 1952 Olympic Games in Helsinki, Finland, after initially being left out of the South African Olympic team because she was considered too old.
Her gold medal was the first ever won by a South African woman at Olympic Games. A little later at the same Olympics, swimmer Joan Harrison won another gold medal for the Team SA, in the 100 metres backstroke.
At the time of her Olympic success she was living and working in Kimberley.
On March 29 1941, at the age of 18, Brand, under her maiden name Van Heerden, set a world high jump record of 1.66m at the Coetzenburg athletics stadium in Stellenbosch. But it took 19 years for her achievement to be officially recognised. The acknowledged world record at the time was 1.67m, held by German jumper Dora Ratjen. Ratjen was, in 1960, exposed as a man, and records were re-written.
She was inducted into the South African Hall of Fame in 2006.
She is honoured by a street in Windhoek, Namibia, named after her.
Her husband, Jan, a Springbok cyclist who she met while training in the same stadium, died in 2008.
Her eldest, Johan, died in a car accident 24 years ago. Her husband, Jan, a Springbok cyclist who she met while training in the same stadium, died in 2008.
Esther died in Bloemfontein on 20 June 2015.
(Various sources including the Sunday Times).