Sewa Birring
January 15, 1946 - January 7, 2021

Sewa Birring joined the Greyhounds Club in 2002. Although he competed in the sprints, middle distance and throws, his main focus was the 400m and 200m. His first track and field meet was the 2002 Prince George BC Seniors Games. The 2006 meet in Abbotsford was his most successful Games. Sewa, who had turned 60 that year, won 7 medals, including gold in the 100m (13.28, -2.4), 200m (26.98, -1.5), 400m (1:00.39) and 4x100m. In total, Sewa would compete in eight 55+ BC Seniors Games with the last being in 2017, in Vernon. There he was on a relay team that broke the Canadian record in the M70 4x100m (58.33).

He competed in four Canadian Championships, his first being in 2003, in Richmond. In 2006, he travelled to Dieppe, New Brunswick, where he had a 'golden meet,' winning 6 medals, all gold. Sewa won the 100m, 200m, 400m and shot put, and was on two winning relay teams. He competed in his third Canadian Championships in Kamloops in 2009, where he won 4 medals, including gold in the 400m. Finally in 2014, Sewa competed in his last Canadian Championships in Toronto, where he won gold in the M65 100m, 200m and 400m.

Sewa competed in his first indoor meet at the 2009 BC Masters Indoor Championships, where he won gold medals in the M60 200m, 400m, shot put (BC Indoor record) and 4x200m (1:56.12, Canadian Indoor record). After winning many medals in the M60 age category, he was looking forward to 2011 when he could compete in the M65 age group. But tragedy struck. While on a construction site he noticed something falling off the roof. Instead of thinking about his own safety, Sewa pushed his friend out of harm’s way, only to have the 2x12 inch lumber strike him on his head. He was taken to emergency, where he was in a coma, suffering from a severe concussion. It would be a long two-year recovery for Sewa. Depressed, he thought that he would never compete again.

But after missing the 2011 and 2012 competitive seasons, Sewa had an unbelievable season in 2013. In his first meet back after the two-year layoff, Sewa competed in the BC Masters Indoor Championships, winning gold medals in the 400m and 800m (in which he set a BC Indoor record), plus a silver in the 200m. He ran the final leg of his relay team that broke the Canadian Indoor record in the M65 4x200m (1:58.03). At the Centennial meet in Kamloops, he won the 100m, 200m (28.09) and 400m (1:04.59). Sewa would win the 200m and 400m again at the BC Masters Outdoor Championships, at the prestigious Hayward Classic meet in Eugene, Oregon, and at the Trevor Craven meet – where he broke the BC M65 400m record (1:04.16). At the Greyhounds year-end banquet, Sewa was chosen the “Comeback Athlete of the Year.”

Competing in 9 meets in 2014, Sewa had another outstanding year. He won gold medals at the BC Masters Indoor and Outdoor Championships, the Canadian Masters Championships in Toronto and at the Seattle Masters Classic. Sewa also competed at the World Masters Athletics (WMA) Championships in Budapest, Hungary. This would be the only World Masters Championships in which he would compete. Although he didn't win any medals, he advanced to the semi-finals, just missing making it to the Finals of the 400m.

Then tragedy struck Sewa again. In the Fall of 2014, Sewa was diagnosed not only with prostate cancer, but worse, the cancer had spread into his bones. The doctors advised him to stop training and not to compete again. Sewa entered the 2015 BC Masters Indoor Championships and surprised everyone, especially his doctors, when he won 2 gold medals, a silver and a bronze – despite being weakened by anti- cancer drugs and undergoing chemotherapy treatments. Amazed that Sewa was doing so well, the doctors agreed to let him continue his running. At the Greyhounds 2015 year-end banquet, Sewa was awarded the Purple Heart Award for Courage.

In 2016, Sewa won gold medals at the BC Masters Indoor and Outdoor Championships. He also won a gold medal and 2 bronze medals at the Americas Masters Games hosted by Vancouver. His M70 relay team broke the Canadian record in the 4x400m (4:53.44). Finally, in October Sewa went to St. George, Utah, to compete in the Huntsman World Senior Games, where he won the 400m.

In April, 2019, Sewa competed in his final track meet at the South Fraser meet at Bear Creek Park. He bravely competed in the 100m, 200m and 800m races.

All told, Sewa competed on relay teams that broke seven Canadian records. The most significant relay team that Sewa ran on was the 2008 team that broke the WORLD INDOOR RECORD in the M60 4x400m. The team of four Greyhounds, including Tony Badowski, John Winfield, Harold Morioka and Sewa, finished in 4:13.30, breaking the world record of 4:14.76 that an American team set in 2005.

Sewa was an amazing person. He always encouraged everyone and often helped others by running beside them to keep them on pace during their training runs. Despite his injuries and medical problems he always remained optimistic. He never complained and when asked how he was, he always said “I'm okay.” He always had a big smile on his face. Everyone loved Sewa.

Sewa 2013 200m race


Sewa Birring
January 15, 1946 - January 7, 2021