News, Culture & Society

Sally Pearson and Cathy Freeman mourn Australian Maurie Plant as former broadcaster is laid to rest

Australian sports stars have gathered to mourn the death of one of the country’s most significant figures in athletics.

Former broadcaster Maurie Plant was laid to rest at St Ignatius Church at Richmond in Melbourne on Wednesday after he died in hospital on January 19.

He was 66 years old and had been put on life support after falling into a coma when he contracted septicaemia after Christmas.

Hundreds of people gathered to farewell Mr Plant on Wednesday, including Olympic hurdler Sally Pearson and sprinter Cathy Freeman.

The two were among those who lead touching tributes to the athletic icon following his death.

Former broadcaster Maurie Plant (pictured with Sharon Hannon) was laid to rest at St Ignatius Church at Richmond in Melbourne on Wednesday after he died in hospital on January 19

Former Australian Olympic runner Cathy Freeman is seen after a funeral service for Australian athletic offical Maurie Plant

Former Australian Olympic runner Cathy Freeman is seen after a funeral service for Australian athletic offical Maurie Plant

Hundreds of people gathered to farewell Mr Plant on Wednesday, including Olympic hurdler Sally Pearson (pictured)

Hundreds of people gathered to farewell Mr Plant on Wednesday, including Olympic hurdler Sally Pearson (pictured)

Funeral service for Australian athletic official Maurie Plant at Saint Ignatius Catholic Church in Melbourne on Wednesday

Funeral service for Australian athletic official Maurie Plant at Saint Ignatius Catholic Church in Melbourne on Wednesday

Pearson described Mr Plant as being a dear friend and mentor to her in a touching Twitter post.

‘The sadness has hit and the tears are flowing,’ she wrote.

‘You’ll hate the fuss but it’s a must as we all come to terms with losing the best there was in our sport. We will miss you MP.’

Freeman also took to Twitter to pay her respects, saying Mr Plant’s ‘presence, personality and charm sucked you right in’.

‘The mark you made in my life both as an athlete & as a friend was extraordinary,’ she wrote.

‘I love you, Maurice, and will miss you terribly. You’ll be forever in our hearts.’

The former Olympians were pictures outside St Ignatius Church in Richmond on Monday following the service. 

Steve Hooker celebrates the gold medal after completing the winning vault in the Men's Pole Vault Final with Australian athletics agent, Maurie Plant during the Beijing Olympics

Steve Hooker celebrates the gold medal after completing the winning vault in the Men’s Pole Vault Final with Australian athletics agent, Maurie Plant during the Beijing Olympics

The former Olympian was pictures outside St Ignatius Church in Richmond on Monday following the service

The former Olympian was pictures outside St Ignatius Church in Richmond on Monday following the service

Former Australian high jumper Steve Hooker (centre) is seen after a funeral service for Australian athletic official Maurie Plant

Former Australian high jumper Steve Hooker (centre) is seen after a funeral service for Australian athletic official Maurie Plant

Former Australian Olympic runner Cathy Freeman is seen watching the hearse drive down Church street after a funeral service for Australian athletic offical Maurie Plant

Former Australian Olympic runner Cathy Freeman is seen watching the hearse drive down Church street after a funeral service for Australian athletic offical Maurie Plant

A coffin carrying Mr Plant’s body was carried out of the church as mourners emotionally followed. 

Former Australian high jumper Steve Hooker was also pictured leaving the church following the service.

Mr Plant was a manager, organiser and broadcaster and was influential in the careers of Pearson, Freeman and Hooker among many others.

Since the news of his death on January 19, tributes praising Mr Plant have been flowing in from across the globe. 

Former Australian hurdler Sally Pearson (centre) is seen after a funeral service for Australian athletic offical Maurie Plant

Former Australian hurdler Sally Pearson (centre) is seen after a funeral service for Australian athletic offical Maurie Plant

Maurie Plant celebrates with Sally Pearson after her victory in the women's 100 metre hurdles final during day eight of 13th IAAF World Athletics Championships at Daegu Stadium on September 3, 2011

Maurie Plant celebrates with Sally Pearson after her victory in the women’s 100 metre hurdles final during day eight of 13th IAAF World Athletics Championships at Daegu Stadium on September 3, 2011

Former Australian high jumper Steve Hooker was also pictured leaving the church following the service

Former Australian high jumper Steve Hooker was also pictured leaving the church following the service

Crowds gathered after the funeral service for Australian athletic great Maurie Plant on Wednesday

Crowds gathered after the funeral service for Australian athletic great Maurie Plant on Wednesday

Former Australian Olympic runner Cathy Freeman is seen clapping as the hearse drives down Church Stree after a funeral service for Australian athletic offical Maurie Plant

Former Australian Olympic runner Cathy Freeman is seen clapping as the hearse drives down Church Stree after a funeral service for Australian athletic offical Maurie Plant

British politician and former track and field athlete Sebastian Coe said: ‘Athletics has lost one of its truest and passionate friends and so many of us have lost a great mate. Maurie Plant we will miss you so much.’

Jamaican sprinter Asafa Powell took to Twitter: ‘You will be missed Maurie! Thanks for the laughs, the support and the kindness you and your family have shown me over the years. Walk Good!’ 

AFL champion Dermott Brereton credited his football career to Mr Plant, saying his career would have finished ‘in a dismal’ fashion if it weren’t for the athletic great.

Mr Plant began his career in athletics as an accomplished junior hurdler and sprinter.

He was a broadcaster for the BBC, hosting trackside interviews that became famous for his detailed understanding of the athlete and the sport.

The coffin is seen being loaded into the hearse at the funeral of athletic great Maurie Plant

The coffin is seen being loaded into the hearse at the funeral of athletic great Maurie Plant

Former Australian Olympic runner Cathy Freeman is seen watching the hearse drive down Church street after a funeral service for Australian athletic offical Maurie Plant

Former Australian Olympic runner Cathy Freeman is seen watching the hearse drive down Church street after a funeral service for Australian athletic offical Maurie Plant

Family and friends line Church street as the hearse drives past after the funeral service for Australian athletic offical Maurie Plant

Family and friends line Church street as the hearse drives past after the funeral service for Australian athletic offical Maurie Plant

Former Australian hurdler Sally Pearson (second from left) is seen watching the hearse go down Church road after a funeral service for Australian athletic offical Maurie Plant

Former Australian hurdler Sally Pearson (second from left) is seen watching the hearse go down Church road after a funeral service for Australian athletic offical Maurie Plant

Athletics Australia issued a statement following his death, describing Mr Plant as ‘inextricable and unique’.

‘When he passed away on Sunday afternoon the sport – from the school and club scene in Australia to the very top of the sport internationally – lost a key component of its engine.’

‘There is no replacement part available.’

They described him as ‘an aficionado of many sports’, but also lead a wonderful life away from athletics marrying his wife Kate in 1990 and raising three songs – Ben, Toby and Rory. 

He is survived by Ben, Toby and Rory, and his siblings – Commonwealth Games hurdles finalist Vin, Cecily, Michael and Elaine.

Former Australian hurdler Sally Pearson (centre) is seen after a funeral service for Australian athletic offical Maurie Plant

Former Australian hurdler Sally Pearson (centre) is seen after a funeral service for Australian athletic offical Maurie Plant

Freeman also took to Twitter to pay her respects, saying Mr Plant's 'presence, personality and charm sucked you right in'

Freeman also took to Twitter to pay her respects, saying Mr Plant’s ‘presence, personality and charm sucked you right in’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


Comments are closed.