Those who left us

The year 2015 witnessed some untimely deaths. As the year comes to an end, here’s looking at athletes and sports personalities, who left us for heavenly abode.

Jonah Lomu   -  AP

Jules Bianchi   -  AP

Yogi Berra   -  AP

Hnery Carr   -  AP

Ron Clarke.   -  The Hindu

Brian Close   -  Getty Images

The year 2015 witnessed some untimely deaths. As the year comes to an end, here’s looking at athletes and sports personalities, who left us for heavenly abode.

Brian Close

Former England captain, Close, was one of the most physically courageous players in cricketing history. He died at the age of 84 on September 14. At the age of 18, Close was the youngest player to earn a Test cap as he made his debut against New Zealand in 1949. The Yorkshire cricketer scored almost 35,000 runs as a batsman, hitting 52 centuries with a highest innings score of 198. He also took 1,171 First-Class wickets.

Camille Muffat

The 400m freestyle gold medallist at the London 2012 Olympics, died untimely alongside top French sailor Florence Arthaud (57) and Olympic lightweight boxer Alexis Vastine (28), when two helicopters smashed into each other during the filming of a reality survival TV show in Argentina on March 10. Camille was 25. Her former coach Fabrice Pellerin said, “What's hard is to reconcile the image I have of Camille, who was unsinkable, with what happened.”

Calvin Peete

Most successful African-American golfer, who overcame a debilitating childhood arm injury, to win 12 PGA Tour titles, died on April 29 at the age of 71. Affectionately nicknamed “Mr Accuracy” for his metronomic ability to hit long and accurate drives, his heyday came during a four-year streak between 1982 and 1986, when he recorded 11 of his 12 tournament victories. His best finish in a Major was joint third in the 1982 USPGA Championship.

Charlie Sifford

A pioneer in breaking the colour barrier as the first African-American golfer on the US PGA Tour and in the World Golf Hall of Fame, Sifford died aged 92 on February 4. A mentor to 14-time major champion Tiger Woods who regarded him as part of the family. “My grandfather is gone and we all lost a brave, decent and honorable man,” said Woods.

Ernst Willy Larsen

The 1956 Olympics bronze medallist in 3000 metre steeplechase, died at the age of 89. The Norwegian athlete also won the bronze medal at the 1954 European Championships.

Franjo Mihaliae

Marathoner Mihalic, considered by many as the best athlete in the sporting history of Yugoslavia, died on February 14 aged 94. He won the silver medal in the marathon at the Summer Olympics in 1956 and also the Boston Marathon in 1958.

Frank Tyson

Nicknamed the 'typhoon' for his ferocious pace, former England fast bowler, Tyson, died aged 85 in Australia on September 27. Often remembered for his taking 28 wickets in five Tests during the 1954-55 Ashes series in Australia, which England won 3-1, Tyson played 170 matches for Northamptonshire, claiming 525 wickets at an average of 20.94, and took 76 wickets in 17 Tests for his country. As injury forced retirement at 30, Tyson emigrated to Australia, his adopted homeland, and began his second career as a school headmaster, coach, commentator, journalist and writer.

Henry Carr

The 1964 Olympic 200-metre gold medallist, Henry Carr, died on May 29 at the age of 72 after suffering from cancer. In 1962, at the age of 19, he became the third-fastest man in the world that year after he ran a 200-metre in 20.5 seconds. Carr not only went on to win the gold medal in 1964 Olympic record but finished the 200-metre in 20.3 seconds. He won another gold medal a few days later, guiding the US team to gold in the 4-by-400-metre relay. His split (44.5) helped the team break the world record by one-and-a-half seconds.

Howard Kendall

Liverpool Town Hall's flag was at half mast in honour of the Everton great who died on October 17 at the age of 69. He won the league title as a player in 1969 as part of the famous 'Holy Trinity' along with Alan Ball and Colin Harvey. Returning as manager in 1981, he guided the club to two league titles, the FA Cup and European Cup-Winners' Cup in the club's most successful era.

Jonah Lomu

“A legend of the game”, Lomu died suddenly at the age of 40 on November 18. The hulking New Zealand winger dragged rugby union into the modern era. He shot to international fame during 1995 World Cup in South Africa, a year after becoming the youngest ever All Black at the age of 19 years and 45 days. At his peak Lomu could cover 100 metres in 10.8 seconds, providing a combination of speed and power that terrorised opponents. While the All Blacks lost to South Africa in 1995 final, the tournament's defining image was Lomu trampling over a hapless Mike Catt on his way to four tries in the All Blacks' semi-final win over England.

“He's a freak, and the sooner he goes away the better,” England captain Will Carling said after the match.

Lomu scored 37 tries in 63 Tests between 1994 and 2002. He suffered from a rare kidney disorder nephrotic syndrome. In 2004, he received a kidney donated by friend and radio broadcaster Grant Kereama.

When it failed in 2012 Lomu said, “I'm really lucky, I've already lived more in one lifetime than many would in six or seven lifetimes.”

Jules Bianchi

Popular and talented French Formula One driver died in hospital in Nice on July 18 from head injuries suffered during a crash at the Japanese Grand Prix in October 2014. He was 25. Bianchi joined the Marussia team in 2013 and competed in 34 Grand Prix. He was the first F1 driver to die from a racing accident since triple world champion Aryton Senna in 1994.

Mal Whitfield

The record-setting middle-distance runner, died at the age of 91 in Washington on November 19. He won three Olympic gold medals in 1948 and 1952. In 1948 London Olympics, he won a bronze medal in the 400-metre race and then a gold medal in 800-metre, setting an Olympic record of 1 minute 49.2 seconds. On the last day, in front of 83,000 at Wembley Stadium, he guided the 4-by-400-metre relay team to win a second gold medal. After the Games, on his way back to US, he acquired the nickname, “Marvelous Mal”.

Marton Fulop

Former Hungary goalkeeper, who played for a string of English Premier League clubs, died after suffering from cancer, aged 32 on November 12. He had spells with Tottenham Hotspur, and Sunderland, who signed him in 2007 before loaning him out to English sides Leicester City, Manchester City and West Bromwich Albion. In 2013 he announced that he was taking a break to recover from a tumour removal operation, but never returned to professional football again.

Ron Clarke

Regarded as one of Australia's greatest middle and distance runners, the World champion died at the age of 78 on June 17. Chosen to light the flame at the opening ceremony of 1956 Melbourne Olympics, Clarke rose to prominence in 1950s and 1960s. He set 17 world records over a period of time and went on to win a bronze medal in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics in 10,000 metres.

Ron Springett

Former Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper, who was a member of England's 1966 World Cup winning squad, died at the age of 80 on September 13. He finally received a winner's medal in 2009 following a change to FIFA's rules.

Udo Lattek

German coach, who won the European Cup, UEFA Cup and European Cup Winners' Cup with three different clubs — Bayern Munich, Borussia Moenchengladbach, and Barcelona, died on February 4, aged 80. In total, he won 14 titles and along with Giovanni Trapattoni is the only coach to have won all three major European club titles.

Yogi Berra

Iconic New York Yankees catcher, known for his folksy sayings, died on September 22 at the age of 90. Berra, a Hall of Famer and three-time Most Valuable Player, was a 15-time All Star and 10-time World Series champion.

Yulia Balykina

Belarussian Olympic sprinter was discovered dead aged 31 in a forest near Minsk in November. Multiple Belarus sprint champion, she competed in the 100m and 4x100m relay at London 2012, before picking up a two-year ban for drugs in 2013. A 28-year-old man — said to be her boyfriend — was charged with murder.