Founder of the Pinelands Athletic Club

    Gifford H. Pentland-Smith (Penty) was born in Durban in 1905. He went to St. George’s School, where he won the Victor Ludorum award three years running, and later went to King Edward School, Johannesburg.
    On moving to Cape Town he joined the Celtic Harriers Club and competed in the 440 yards hurdles. In 1932, 1933, and 1935 he was Western Province Champion in this event. In 1936 he came second to the well-known sportsman, Charlie Savage.
    The club was only two years old when World War II was declared and Penty enlisted. He went ‘up North’ and served in the Middle East. On his return to South Africa in 1943, he re-started the club. In 1947 he was made the club’s first Life Member.
    In 1937, as a Pinelands resident, aged 32, Penty decided to start an athletic club; through his initiative, enthusiasm and drive he was able to enlist the support of leading members of the community. He was for many years not only the treasurer, but also coach and organising secretary of the many athletic meetings held.
    On moving to Salisbury, Rhodesia, in May 1948, Penty found that there was only one athletic club (Harriers) and “believing that competition was a good thing”, as his wife Edna, wrote, he started the Rhodes Athletic Club in 1949. Subsequently he coached swimmers and during this period he was approached by several young paraplegics to coach them. This led to his taking a team to Perth, Australia. Penty formed a club for paraplegics; further visits to Israel, Tokyo, Germany and South Africa followed.