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Paul Rees Obituary & Funeral Details

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06/05/2024 00:00, In Blog /

Clive Williams looks back at the sporting career of former Welsh shot record holder Paul Rees who died on April 13th aged 78 after a lengthy battle with pancreatic cancer.

Paul was a giant in many respects - not only was he large in physical stature, and a superstar in athletics but he also had a huge presence in powerlifting and weightlifting. Indeed he was a Hall of Fame coach in the former and a supreme competitor and coach in all three activities.

When I spoke to him last year he admitted that he always had a dilemma over which “activity” he was most proud. Being diplomatic he said that winning 16 Welsh shot and discus titles and holding the Welsh shot record of 16.70m for almost 7 years until it was beaten by Commonwealth Games shot put bronze medallist Shaun Pickering was near the top!

1964 Olympic long jump champion Lynn Davies said on hearing the news of Paul’s death: “I have fond memories of Paul and in particular I remember a car journey in 1979  from Cwmbran to the then National Sports Centre in Cardiff. Ron Pickering, who was then Welsh national coach drove, with me in the car along with Paul. He had just won his 6th Welsh shot title and here he was dashing to Cardiff to compete in the Welsh weightlifting championships. He was a lovely man and a joy to be with.”

Tributes have also come from fellow UK national throws coach and leading shot putter Nick Tabor, and former Welsh Commonwealth Games team manager Delyth Prothero.

Nick, a former double UK shot champion said:  “We were quite close, and Paul was the best man at my wedding.  He was a fierce competitor both in track and field and in weightlifting and powerlifting. He was a one off.”

Delyth, a former Welsh title holder at both shot and discus said:  “Paul was first and foremost a kind gentleman who had an enormous depth of knowledge about throwing events. I competed alongside him for Wales and his passion for our country and the sport was enormous. A gentle giant who I had the privilege to train and compete with. They don't make them like that anymore.”

Aberaman born David Paul Rees left the Aberdare Valley aged 15 after growing-up in Regent Street, Blaengwaun and despite living in Hampshire and Dorset for the majority of his life he never forgot his Welsh roots and was extremely proud to wear the  Welsh vest in international matches on 16 occasions, captaining the team on many occasions.

His first appearance in the Welsh championships came in 1971 where he finished second in the shot to the man he succeeded as Welsh record holder, John Walters – a man he called his idol. He then went on to win the event on a record seven successive occasions – a record which still stands today after 42 years. Altogether he won nine shot titles and along with seven discus wins making a total of 16 title wins in these events - another record still standing today.

He told me that he regarded himself primarily as a coach in all three disciplines and was coaching his large group right up to just before he died.

Paul’s shoes will be hard to fill.

His funeral is on Friday 17 May at 2.30pm, Harbour View Crematorium, Lychett Minster, Poole.