Staunch sports activist, SA Olympian Cheryl Roberts dies

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Cheryl Roberts
Cheryl Roberts
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  • Well known South African sporting activist Cheryl Roberts died on Friday morning.
  • Roberts represented South Africa at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona in table tennis.
  • Roberts remained a strong activist for women's sports and transformation.

Sporting activist Cheryl Roberts died on Friday morning at the age of 60.

This was confirmed to News24 Sport by her sister Sharon, who said Cheryl was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago.

"She was fighting. She was undergoing her treatment and she was coming through," Sharon said.

"In the last couple of months, it was progressing and getting worse. When we got the authorisations for the treatment, the cancer was getting worse.

"We last spoke to her yesterday, but we could see that her strength was fading."

Roberts was a noted sporting activist representing South Africa at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona in table tennis.

Roberts was a vocal proponent of transformation and women's sports through her writing and social media posts.

Joe Carrim, the president of the South African Table Tennis Board, said Roberts' passing came as a shock to him.

"It has come as a tragic shock for us. We didn't know what had happened to her," Carrim said.

"She helped steer the transformation ship in table tennis and she's a true legend of our sport.

"She hadn't left her role as an activist and the thought of Cheryl being no more wasn't something that crossed our minds.

"It's a sad moment for all of us and I hope the country shares in the family's loss as well as ours.

"She'll be sorely missed."

In her last days, Roberts' Facebook account was awash with posts of Springbok Women, who embarked on their journey to New Zealand for a return into the Women's Rugby World Cup after an eight-year absence.

She celebrated women's grassroots development and achievements and highlighted many people doing impactful work on her social media platform, who might otherwise never have gotten the recognition.

SA Rugby president Mark Alexander said in a tweet from the Springbok team's Twitter account that the passing of Roberts saddened them.

"We are saddened to hear of the passing of Cheryl Roberts, a staunch supporter of women's sport, a champion of equal opportunities, and an activist for women on the SA sporting landscape," Alexander said.

"May she rest in peace and our thoughts are with her family."

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