Obituary - Averil M Williams

02/03/2020 00:00, In Blog /

It is only recently that Welsh Athletics has learnt the sad news of the passing of Averil Williams. After a long period of ill health, Averil passed away on December 16th 2019.

Averil was a world-class javelin thrower and former British athlete who competed in the Rome Olympics in 1960. She represented England in the British Empire and Commonwealth Games at Cardiff in 1958 where she won the bronze medal. Twelve years later at the age of thirty-five she competed for Wales in the 1970  Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh where she was placed a creditable 5th. Averil competed for Great Britain twenty-seven times and represented both England and Wales on numerous occasions. She was still competing as a veteran athlete in the early 1990's

Following a successful athletics career, she made a significant contribution to the Welsh Women's  AAA as a team manager, coach, technical official and administrator. During the seventies and eighties, she was proactive in promoting athletics at all levels within the principality. As Senior Team Manager her organisation, documentation, communication and attention to detail was second to none. Her reports relating to domestic events were as comprehensive as those for International competitions and the Commonwealth Games

As a member of the International Athletics Committee which was comprised of representatives from the Welsh AAA and the Welsh Women's AAA, she ensured that women's events were fully represented in international competitions against countries such as the Netherlands, Canada, Greece, Portugal, Spain as well as the Home Countries.

Averil was an excellent coach and her technical knowledge was outstanding. She coached a number of athletes ranging from grassroots to Olympic level including our most successful thrower to date Venissa Head..

 Venissa stated that  '' Averil was always professional in her approach,set high standards in terms of achievement and always led by example''

 Janet Beese who was also a throws international during this era stated  that '' I benefited tremendously  from Averil's knowledge, expertise, experience and motivation and attribute my international success to her technical knowledge, commitment, guidance and support,''

Averil became the athletics team manager for the Edmonton and Brisbane Commonwealth Games and was a very valued member of the Welsh support team. Her management of the athletics team was excellent. Venissa recalls that '' the team was always kept well informed on a daily basis of all details relating to both the athletics and domestic programmes. In addition to her athletic management role, she supported a number of other participating sports''

As a member of the  Executive Committee of the Welsh Women's AAA she also served as meeting organiser for championship events, a technical official, chaired the team selection committee and participated in numerous national squad activities. She was also part of the working party who paved the way for the amalgamation of the Welsh AAA, the Welsh Women's AAA and the Welsh Cross Country Association to form the Athletics Association of Wales..

In addition to her direct influence on athletics in Wales within her professional career as a lecturer at Caerleon College of Education and Coleg Gwent she was able to utilise her expertise to promote athletics within teacher training courses and sport-related studies in further education.

David Jessett one of the highest-ranked technical officials in UKA and Welsh Athletics describes her influence on his training as a teacher thus;

''I first met Averil when I attended CaerleonCollege in the early 1970's. As one of the lecturers within a strong Physical Education department I found her to be a truly inspirational person and a strong educational leader. Her knowledge of athletics and understanding of how to deliver the sport to youngsters played a major part in establishing how I taught throughout my own teaching career''

Averil clearly made an immense contribution to the development of athletics in Wales especially in relation to women and girls.

On behalf of Welsh Athletics our sincere belated condolences to her family.

Lynette Harries MBE

President of Welsh Athletics.

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