KENTH ANDERSSON R.I.P.

Posted on Wednesday, January 26th, 2011 at 10:35 am and is filed under Archive | 0

There will be a Memorial Service for Kenth Andersson in the Great Hall of the City Hall in Belgrade, Serbia at 12.00 on Thursday, January 27.

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Kenth, a three-time Swedish middle distance champion, died suddenly in Belgrade in the early hours of last Thursday morning, at the age of 66.

His daughter Lynn and son Daniel have given their blessing for the service while they wait for Kenth’s body to be repatriated, for burial in Trelleborg, western Sweden, where his parents are buried. Lynn said, Please go ahead, we all know how much he loved Belgrade. It is much appreciated.

The service on Thursday will be organised by the Belgrade Marathon, with whom Kenth worked for 20 years, in conjunction with the Athletics Federation of Serbia. The speakers will be three of the original organisers of the Belgrade Marathon –  Dejan Nikolic, Bata Vukelic, with whom Kenth was dining, along with Bata’s wife Snezana, when he died, and Vesko Grozdanic – and the general secretary of the national federation, Slobodan Brankovic.

OBITUARY

It is testament to his expansive personality, if not his waistline, that hundreds, if not thousands of you will have known Kenth Andersson, who died overnight Wednesday/Thursday, as he had enjoyed living in recent years, after a good meal, accompanied by strong drink.

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Kenth, 66, died in Belgrade, Serbia, a city which had become a second home in recent years, through his friendship with and assistance to Dejan Nikolic and the team around the Belgrade Marathon.

Seeing him over the last 30 years, most people might imagine that he was a hammer thrower or shot putter, but Kenth was a Swedish international middle distance runner in the 1960s, winning two national titles at 800 metres and one at 1500 metres in 1966/7. He got an athletics scholarship in San Diego, USA, beginning a peripatetic career, which branched into management, where his capacity for languages was second only to his knowledge of international athletics and its practitioners.

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It was typical of Kenth’s good nature that when, half a dozen years ago, I asked him how to go about interviewing his most famous predecessors, Gunder Haegg and Arne Andersson (no relation) – two of the seminal middle distance runners in history – not only did Kenth organise my schedule, but also insisted on being my interpreter and driver, ferrying me from Malmoe, Haegg’s hometown, and near where he lived himself, to Vanersborg, to meet Arne Andersson, a round trip of over 500 kilometres.

Kenth’s conviviality and endless capacity for anecdote enlivened many an athletics stadium, athletes’ hotel and restaurant; and it was immediately after a late night meal on one of Belgrade’s celebrated riverboat restaurants that he died suddenly.

He will be mourned by everyone who knew him.

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