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World of athletics pays tribute to Roy Thickpenny

Athletes have paid tribute after the death of much loved coach Roy Thickpenny, following a long illness.

Born in Holbeach and educated at Spalding Grammar School, Thickpenny was a member of Peterborough and Nene Valley AC.

A club spokesman said: "Roy was a true enthusiast, having competed and coached locally for over 50 years. He also introduced many hundreds of youngsters to the sport, and served both Peterborough AC and Nene Valley Harriers well over the years. He was a good man and we will miss him."

Roy Thickpenny pictured at the LOndon 2012 Olympics (42711139)
Roy Thickpenny pictured at the LOndon 2012 Olympics (42711139)

Thickpenny, who competed as a long jumper and played as a flying winger for Spalding Rugby Club, turned to coaching in the 1970's and specialised at the pole vault, and was one of the few senior coaches in the country for that sport.

A former quantity surveyor, he packed his career in to work as a full time athletics coach, running many school holiday classes.

Thickpenny coached former Peterborough AC pole vaulter Richard Smith who broke the national under 15's record in the 1990's. His versatility as a coach shone through more recently when he coached Nene Valley's Max Everest to English Schools gold in the 2011 100m hurdles.

He drove an estate car which most of the time resembled a mobile athletics store.

Former Commonweath shot put champion and Holbeach AC clubmate Geoff Capes said: "Roy had a great personality and was great with kids. His death is a huge loss to our athletics family. My thoughts are with his family and I'm so sorry for their loss."

Distance runner Paul Parkin reflected: "In my Holbeach days he would stand next to the late Tommy Clay trying to outshout each other with encouragement.

"My first memory of him was when I won my first cross country team prize. He told everyone in the future I would be winning individual prizes soon.The following season I won my first race and Roy was as happy with his prediction as I was."

Ace all-rounder Sean Reidy said: "His passion for vaulting and athletics was unbelievable. I'm generally one of the last people to leave the track on a training night but that often meant I'd be walking out of the gate talking to Roy.

"He opened up pole vault to me with his expertise, which allowed me to be a competitive combined eventer nationally and as a masters athlete over the last few years.

"He stayed neutral as coach during the rivalry between Peterborogh AC and Nene Valley Harriers yet was super competitive and always had the athletes' best interest at heart come the day of the competition.

"His guidance and knowledge will be a big loss to the scene locally but his passion and expertise is a massive loss to sport as whole."

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