Ernst de Jong - Springbok diver
Ernst was born in Pretoria in 1934. He started diving at an early age and became South African Diving champion on springboard representing Northern Transvaal. At that time SA champion divers Willie Welgemoed and Basil Bowen were also based in Pretoria. After finishing matric in 1952 Ernst won a scholarship to the University of Oklahoma, where he joined his brother Gerrie de Jong and several other South Africans.
He was awarded Springbok colours for diving. As a coach he produced a number of South African champions including Vivian Breedt, Martin Lundie, Gina Laurie, all of whom were awarded their Springbok colours.
During the seventies Ernst formed the South African Diving Union which independently administered South African diving. Under his leadership many international divers were brought out to South Africa and competed with Northern Transvaal and South African divers in a series of international diving extravaganzas in venues all over South Africa such as Vanderbijlpark, Pietersburg, Pretoria, Ellis Park and Worcester.
Ernst served many years on the NTS executive from the sixties, seventies and into the eighties. He has maintained his interest in the sport. He won 3 gold medals (on 1m, 3m and on platform) at the 2000 FINA World Masters’ Diving Championships in Munich. Last year he served as Jury of Appeal for the SSA National Age Groups, RSA Cup and South African Novices tournaments hosted by NTS Diving at the de Jong Centre. Ernst de Jong is still the Patron of the de Jong Diving Club which is the oldest independent diving club in South Africa. For his lifelong dedication to aquatic sport Ernst de Jong is nominated a life member of Northern Tigers Swimming
Over and above his interests in aquatics over the last six decades, Ernst has taken part in and achieved national colours in other sports such as fencing, shooting and archery too. He recently took up horse riding / show jumping and coaches his daughter, who is a world rated equestrian.
Ernst is an internationally renowned artist who has exhibited his artworks all over the world. He is well known locally for the gigantic fire screen at the State Theater. He designed the second definitive series of South African postage stamps. He designed the South African banknotes with the animals. He runs and founded the prestigious Academy of Fine Art in Pretoria.
See also family members Marc de Jong and Gigi de Jong - artists and international athletes
One of his greatest contributions to South African and NTS diving has been his visionary approach to the provision of diving facilities to Pretoria. Ernst and his brother, Gerry, saw the need for a standalone diving centre and proceeded to build the de Jong Diving Centre in Roper Street, Pretoria. Long before synchronised diving was the TV spectacle that it now is, Ernst saw the prospect of synchronised diving as a sport and erected the first ever twin 3m diving platform in Africa. Once the diving centre was fully operational it was donated as gift to the citizens of Pretoria. It is one of the best diving pools in Africa.
The de Jong diving centre in Pretoria
march 14, 1954 - results from Big Seven championships