Paddle Australia community shares condolences with passing of Phil Coles AM

Paddle Australia joins with the international sporting community in mourning the passing of triple Olympic sprint kayaker Phil Coles AM.

A Life Member of Paddle Australia since 1981 and an inaugural member of the Paddle Australia Hall of Fame, Coles was a former member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), AOC Life Member and AOC Executive Board Member and Secretary General.

Paddle Australia President, Andrea McQuitty, said Coles passing will be felt deeply across the paddling community.

“Phil’s contribution to our paddling community was enormous, as both as respected athlete and sports administrator. Long after his days representing Australia, he continued to support our sport both here and abroad.

“His passion for the Olympic movement and lifetime commitment to advocate for all sports internationally, made him a true leader and one’s who presence will be greatly missed.

“It was an honour to have Phil cheering on our team at the recent Tokyo Olympic Games, the same venue he captained our men’s K4 crew at in 1964.

“On behalf of the our whole community I pass on my condolences to Phil’s family and friends. We will all miss him,” she said.

Coles represented Australia at the Rome 1960, Tokyo 1964 & Mexico 1968 Olympic Games, and was crowned national champion on 25 occasions.

AOC President Ian Chesterman paid tribute to Mr Coles as a great servant of sport at all levels, following his passing on Saturday afternoon, aged 91, after a short illness.

“His service to Australian sport was immense. Phil’s passing, after a lifetime in sport, is a sad day for the Olympic movement and for many involved in the wider sports community in Australia.

“I was particularly pleased to see Phil at the Tokyo Olympics at the canoe events – a chance for him to return to one of his host cities of his three Olympic Games as an athlete, and one that was obviously very important to him.

“He greatly enjoyed the opportunity to watch the current day competitors, the athletes being at the heart of his long service to the Olympic movement. Phil was a great servant of sport, at an international and national level as well as in grassroots sport through local communities.

“Our heartfelt condolences go to Patricia and Phil’s family and friends,” Mr Chesterman concluded.

IOC Member in Australia John Coates said Phil Coles stood up for Australian sport during the most challenging of times.

“The athletes of Australia have lost one of their true champions and the AOC one of its strongest leaders.

“It was Phil who was key to our participation in Moscow 1980 and notwithstanding intense personal and public abuse.

“It was this participation by the Australian Olympic Team against the wishes of the then Prime Minister and Australian Government that once and for all emphasized the independence of the Australian Olympic Committee,” Mr Coates concluded.

Funeral arrangements for Mr Coles will be announced in the coming days.

Phil Coles AM

  • Three-times Olympian: Rome 1960, Tokyo 1964 & Mexico 1968
  • Chef de Mission: Moscow 1980
  • IOC Member 1982-2011
  • IOC Honorary Member 2012
  • Awarded Olympic Order 2000
  • AOF (now AOC) Executive from 1973-2011
  • AOF Secretary General 1985-1993
  • AOC Life Member
  • ONOC Executive Board from 1981
  • Australian Sports Commission Board Member 1984-1987
  • National Canoe champion 25 times
  • Sport Australia Hall of Fame 1993
  • Paddle Australia Hall of Fame
  • Australian Sports Medal 2000
  • Vice President SOCOG 1993-1999


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