Olympic stalwart Don Anthony has died, aged 83

Tribute by Philip Barker
Don Anthony, a finalist in the hammer at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics and in recent times a stalwart member of the Sports Journalists’ Association, has died after a long illness. He was 83.

Don Anthony, having collected one of many awards in his distinguished career as administrator and historian of Olympic sport

Born in November 1928, Anthony had an accomplished sporting career. After winning the AAA hammer title in 1953, he twice represented England in what was then the British Empire and Commonwealth Games, in 1954 and 1958, as well as finishing 12th at the Melbourne Games.

Dr Don Anthony made his mark as an administrator, educator and sporting pioneer.

It was in the midst of his hammer career, while on National Service in Cyprus in 1955, that Anthony first played the game of volleyball and, on his return home to a job as an assistant lecturer at Manchester University that he established a governing body for the sport in this country – the beginnings of a lifelong mission which will see some fulfillment in a few weeks’ time with British teams competing at the London Olympic Games.

He represented volleyball on the national Olympic committee for many years and to this day, Volleyball England’s Hall of Fame bears his name.

As a young man, he was one of the first British students to visit what is now the German Sports University in Cologne. He taught at Loughborough and many other institutions and his last academic assignment was as Visiting Professor of the University of the Eastern Mediterranean.

His work outside the formal classroom was just as important. He travelled the world to promote peace and Olympism through UNESCO and Olympic Solidarity. He was a familiar face at the International Olympic Academy in Greece and oversaw the establishment of Britain’s own National Olympic Academy in 1982.

He became great friends with Philip Noel-Baker, a fellow Olympian who won the Nobel Peace Prize. They shared the same ideals, and Anthony was the natural choice as Noel-Baker’s biographer. The book was appropriately entitled Man of Sport, Man of Peace.

As a journalist, Anthony was a regular contributor to World Sports Magazine and to the Olympic Review. He was responsible for uncovering much of Britain’s early Olympic heritage and also ensured that William Penny Brookes’ Olympian Games in Much Wenlock received their rightful place in the history of the modern Games. In 1994, Anthonywelcomed Juan Antonio Samaranch to Much Wenlock to mark the centenary of the IOC.

More recently, Anthony worked closely with Baron Pierre de Coubertin’s great nephew, Antoine de Navacelle, in the establishment of the Coubertin awards which combined sport with the world of business ethics.

In 2007, Anthony received the IOC award for “Sport and Promotion of Olympism.”

Last year, Anthony was made an MBE, when the Queen, patron of the BOA, herself performed the investiture.