World Champion High Jumper Found Shot to Death Near South African Cemetery

The body of South African high jump superstar Jacques Freitag was found this week riddled with bullets near a cemetery in his home country, bringing a weeks-long saga to a conclusion following his June 17 disappearance.The former world champion was found blood-soaked on a patch of grass in Pretoria West, and police say they are

Powered by NewsAPI , in Liberal Perspective on .

news image

The body of South African high jump superstar Jacques Freitag was found this week riddled with bullets near a cemetery in his home country, bringing a weeks-long saga to a conclusion following his June 17 disappearance.

The former world champion was found blood-soaked on a patch of grass in Pretoria West, and police say they are treating the case as murder. He was last seen leaving his mother’s house with an unknown man, and was declared missing soon after.

Local reports suggested that the star athlete may have been down on his luck and even struggling with drug addiction at the time of his disappearance, according to The South African, a local English-language news site.

Freitag won world championships at the youth, junior, and senior levels, a rare feat in elite athletics matched by only 10 other track stars—including Usain Bolt.

Freitag’s towering 6’8” frame made him a standout on and off the field. Shortly after his disappearance, his sister, Chrissie Lewis, told the public that he should be hard to miss given his height.

Jacques Freitag of South Africa during the 2srcsrc5 men's high jump IAAF Golden League championships in Paris, France.

Jacques Freitag of South Africa during the 2005 men’s high jump IAAF Golden League championships in Paris, France.

Michael Steele/Getty Images

Freitag’s disappearance, shrouded in mystery, has gripped South Africa. It began several weeks ago when Freitag was seen leaving his mother’s home in Bronkhorstpruit, near Pretoria, with an unidentified man. This man claimed to have a job opportunity for Freitag, but he was never seen alive again. Lewis then spearheaded a desperate search for her brother, whose body was discovered Tuesday near Zandfontein Cemetery in Pretoria West, with bullet wounds.

The police have been tight-lipped about potential suspects or motives, leaving the public—and especially the tabloids—to speculate.

Some suggest that Freitag was involved in a clandestine deal that went wrong. Others hint at a jealous rival or a long-standing grudge.

Freitag’s career, however, was nothing short of golden. He won the world under-18 title in Bydgoszcz, Poland in 1999 and world under-20 gold in Santiago, Chile in 2000 before claiming senior gold with a leap of 2.35 meters at the 2003 World Championships in Paris. His national record of 2.38 meters, set in 2005, still stands today.

Despite his professional success, Freitag’s post-athletic life seemed to unravel. Friends and family describe a man who struggled to find his footing after retiring from competitive sports.

South African Police spokesperson Brigadier Brenda Muridili confirmed that the former athlete had been shot multiple times and that the investigation is being treated as a murder.

No arrests have been made, and the police have appealed to the public for any information.

Read More