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Remembering the life of Club legend Tony O'Neil

Tony O’Neill

20 October 1931 – 27 June 2023

It is with great sadness that Bristol & West AC records the passing of longstanding Life Member,

accomplished competitor, experienced throws coach, highly ranked Field official and renowned

athletics statistician, Tony O’Neill.

Tony was born in St Werburghs so was a true Bristolian. He joined the Army and spent the early

part of his career serving in the North of England. He became one of Britain’s great exponents of

throws, and when he returned to Bristol on an Army posting in 1970 he was ranked in the UK top 25

for the Hammer with a 50.60 throw along with a 46.10 Discus throw.

He joined the Club’s flourishing National League team and became part of a formidable throwing group which lasted for many years. During his time with Bristol, he threw Club best performances of SP - 12.81, DT – 44.12 and HT – 49.48.

He was an early and influential member of the ‘Hammer Circle’ and a great throws coach helping the

Head twins (Venissa and Vivienne), Chris Ellis, Sarah Moore, Bruce Holden, Matt Spicer and many

others. To this day they remain at the head of the Club rankings. Chris was a GB International and

Sarah & Venissa both competed in the Commonwealth Games.

Tony was an ever-present at the Whitchurch track. As a tribute, Bruce Holden has posted:

My old friend and coach, Tony O’Neill passed away last week at the age of 91. Difficult to describe the influence he had on me, the selfless time he spent as a coach to myself and many others. RIP Tony”.

Away from coaching, his passion was for statistics. He was a longstanding member of the National

Union of Statisticians (NUTS) and he is credited in many editions of British Athletics, the annual

ranking book that was the forerunner of the Power of 10.

Tony moved to Morecambe in Lancashire to be nearer his daughters Shirley and Karen after his wife

Margaret died, but as a Life Member he continued to follow the Club and sent an annual donation

which funded a Cup for the ‘Young Thrower of the Year’.

Bristol & West offer their deepest condolences to Tony’s two daughters. His funeral will take place

at the Lancaster & Morecambe Crematorium, LA2 6AD, at 3.30 pm on Friday 14 July.

Mike Strange, Life Member

4 July 2023

Below is a photo of Coach Tony flanked by Bruce Holden and Chris Ellis at Whitchurch

Our thanks to Mike Strange for sending this in.

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