The renowned coach and former sprinter Ayo Falola has died following his battle with cancer
Tributes have been paid to Ayo Falola who has died following his battle with cancer.
The respected coach and former sprinter clocked wind-assisted times of 10.2 and 20.93 for 100m and 200m respectively and on making the switch to coaching he guided many international athletes.
He recently coached Shelayna Oskan-Clarke to her fifth-place finish in the Beijing World Championships 800m as well as her first sub-two-minute clocking for the two-lap event.
The life member of Woodford Green with Essex Ladies was also coach to Sydney Olympic 400m fourth-placer Donna Fraser and among the many other athletes Falola coached were 800m internationals Jo Fenn and Marilyn Okoro, former UK 100m record-holder Montell Douglas and Paralympic 800m champion Danny Crates.
Falola’s wife Sarah and one of his sons, Oliver, had held a “Brave the Shave” event in August which raised more than £5800 for Macmillan Cancer Support. Falola had been battling cancer for seven years but was this year given a terminal diagnosis.
Current and former athletes were among those to pay tribute to the renowned coach on Twitter.
“So many wonderful moments with Coach Ayo Falola. RIP. I can’t believe you are not here anymore. Heart broken,” wrote Fenn, while world marathon record-holder Paula Radcliffe wrote: “Such sad news. Thoughts with family and friends of Ayo Falola. A very special man who made everyone smile and will be greatly missed.”
Olympic, world, European and Commonwealth long jump champion Greg Rutherford commented: “Devastating news that Ayo Falola has died; what a great man with such an infectious laugh. Thoughts are with Sarah and his three boys,” and 2011 world 1500m silver medallist Hannah England said: “So very sad to read that Ayo has passed away. Such a large and lovely personality, a great coach and a great guy.”
Sydney 2000 Olympic heptathlon gold medallist Denise Lewis wrote: “That incredible laugh will live on in our hearts. God bless you Ayo… no more pain,” while 2011 world 110m hurdles bronze medallist Andy Turner wrote: “Heart wrenching to hear of Ayo losing his battle to cancer, thoughts are with Sarah and his 3 sons. He really will be missed.”
Olympic runner Helen Clitheroe said: “Very sad news. A great guy always fun to be around. Thoughts with his family and friends. RIP Ayo.”
Commonwealth and European long jump silver medallist Jade Johnson was another to pay tribute and wrote: “There are no words to describe my sadness to hear of the passing of Ayo. I will miss that laugh! #RIP #AyoFalola.”