He is a legend who rewrote the record books. A diehard speed glutton who exhibited his talent on the global stage until he was in his late 30s. Shaun Bownes, the former hurdles champion of the African continent, is carved from granite.
He may not have been able to escape the injuries or stay ahead of Father Time, but heaven knows, he tried. That bald pate of his was a constant on televisions screens.
Bownes is currently a sprint coach at the North-West University (NWU) and it is a job he enjoys thoroughly. Sharing his experience and knowledge is his passion and he tells with great enjoyment how he lives through the achievements of his athletes these days. One of the athletes who benefits from his mentorship is Liezl Gouws. She contracted cerebral palsy as a five-year-old and cannot stop talking about the influence he has had on her career over the past few years.
Bownes won gold in Manchester, England at the Commonwealth Games in 2002, after he had taken bronze at the Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 1998. However, his biggest legacy is probably his list of performances at the African Championships. In Dakar, Senegal, in 1998 and in Radés, Tunisia, in 2002 Bownes walked away with gold each time. In Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo, in 2004 he won a silver medal.
One of the 51-year-old (he turns 52 on 24 October) Bownes’s proudest achievements is his 60-metres indoor African record of 7,25 seconds that still stands. At the ripe age of 43 he won gold in Budapest, Hungary, in 2014 in the 60 m at the World Masters Athletics Indoor Championships.
According to him one of the most important recipes for an athlete’s success is to maintain a balance in life. He worked hard, but he also made sure he enjoyed life. That is a philosophy he tries to instil in his athletes, and if one looks at his trophy case, it is difficult to argue with him.