Westfields coach is still going strong at 90

WESTFIELDS Sports High School's track and field coach Fred O'Connor, 89, is no doubt one of the most successful athletics coaches and athletes in the history of the sport.

He has trained some of the world's best long-jumpers, including Fabrice Lapierre who won a gold medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, and John Thornell, who came fifth at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.

But not only has he spent nearly 70 years coaching athletes, until five years ago he competed in many world championships — bagging 38 medals throughout his life, 16 of them gold.

His most recent victory was in 2007 at the World Masters Athletics Championships at San Sebastian in Spain.

He won a gold medal in the mens 84+ age group for the 300m hurdles and got silver in the triple jump.

"Throughout the years, I became a three-time gold medallist in the 300m hurdles, I won gold twice in the 200m running, the 4 x 1 relay, 4 x 4 relay and gold in the pentathlon and decathlon," he said.

"I also won a gold medal in the 400m and 100m. I don't know anyone who's done that."

Despite turning 90 on December 27, Mr O'Connor still coaches athletics six times a week, including two days at Westfields Sports High School.

"It's all about knowledge. I wanted to learn as much as I could and to inform people," he said.

"It was a natural thing for me to do and I love to see the achievement.

"It's also very satisfying to know I'm one of the best coaches."

While he recently had an eye operation he said he was in great health and didn't plan to retire soon.

Westfields Sports High School's athletics director Dan Suchy called Mr O'Connor an "amazing man".

"He was ranked No.1 in the world for triple jump in the lead-up to the 1948 London Olympics but decided to get married instead," he said.

"He won gold and set a new world record in the 80 to 85 years decathlon event at the World Veteran Games.

"He has also played first grade cricket, soccer, basketball, Australian rules football and rugby league for various clubs throughout his career.

"What an amazing man!"

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