After going missing last month, South African police have confirmed that the body of former Olympian and world high jump champion Jacques Freitag has been located and that a murder case has been initiated, as reported by ESPN.

The 42-year-old athlete, who competed in the 2004 Olympics and won the world title in Paris in 2003, was shot as stated in the reports from the local media after he vanished in mid-June. 

After leaving his mother’s residence in the early hours of June 17, his sister Chrissie Lewis posted a request for assistance on social media to locate Freitag. After his sports career ended, Lewis admitted he had battled a drug problem.

The police reported that a body was discovered in a field next to a Pretoria cemetery. The SA Police Service Brigadier Brenda Muridili told ESPN: “The family have identified the body as his.”

Muridili added as a statement to the media: “I can confirm that a missing person’s case in Hercules has been changed to a case of murder… No one has been arrested yet but the police are following up on leads.”

Freitag’s athletic legacy

It was known that Freitag was one of the few athletes to win junior, senior, and youth world titles. As the news of the athlete’s death went out, Hendrick Mokganyetsi, the chairperson of the Athletics South Africa commission, paid respect to Freitag and stated, via EWN: “On the fifth of March 2005, I remember he cleared 2.38 metres — that was a national record.” 

“He was a four-time SA champ in high jump. In 2000, he won gold at the world junior champs that were held in Santiago, Chile…. [In 2003] he won the gold medal at the world champs in Paris with a jump of 2.35 metres. This victory made him the first South African to win a gold in high jump at the world champs,”  Mokganyetsi added.

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