The Daily Telegraph - Saturday

Shaun Pickering

Versatile athlete who excelled for Wales in shot, discus and hammer and backed young hopefuls

- Radio Times,

SHAUN PICKERING, who has died aged 61, was a shot putter who competed in the Olympic Games for Britain and was a Commonweal­th Games medallist for Wales; in retirement, he became a national coach as well as carrying on the work of the sporting charity establishe­d in honour of his father Ron.

Shaun Desforges Pickering was born on November 14 1961; his father Ron and his mother Jean, née Desforges, had been childhood sweetheart­s in east London, but Ron became Wales’s national athletics coach and Shaun was born at Griffithst­own, a suburb of Pontypool.

He attended Sheredes School, a comprehens­ive in Hoddesdon, Hertfordsh­ire. Academical­ly, he said, he was “talented but pretty lazy”, but he excelled in athletics and rugby, playing at No 8 and centre for his county.

It was an uncommonly sporting family. His mother had been a versatile elite athlete, winning a bronze medal in the

4x100 metres relay at the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, two European golds in the relay and long jump and Commonweal­th bronzes in the long jump and hurdles. Ron was the BBC’s “voice of athletics” for many years, and a coach whose most famous charge was Lynn Davies, long-jump gold medallist at the 1964 Olympics.

Shaun took up the hammer by chance when he was 13, he recalled: “There was one in the garage at home, so my dad gave me a lesson in the rudiments of throwing, and two days later I was competing.”

Four years later he was English schools champion in the event, and he won a sports scholarshi­p to Stanford University in California, studying physics and chemistry. He was an All-American, finishing sixth in the NCAA Championsh­ips. But back problems led him to take up the shot, and showing all the versatilit­y that his mother had displayed, at the 1986 Commonweal­th Games in Edinburgh he made the finals of the shot, discus and hammer.

Away from athletics, Pickering had worked as a commentato­r’s assistant in 1983 and 1984, then wrote for the before building a high-powered career with the Japanese company Canon, rising to manager of event sponsorshi­p, with a

£20 million annual budget. As his career progressed he divided his time between Amsterdam for work and Los Angeles for training at UCLA. All his earnings from sport he ploughed into the Ron Pickering Memorial Fund,

He was given unpaid leave from his job to devote himself full-time to athletics in an attempt to make the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta (his success made him and Jean the first British mother-and-son Olympians). He worked on his speed, strength and spinning technique, but could finish only 27th.

“There were two parts to this Olympic odyssey of mine, to make the Olympic team and to throw 20 metres,” he told reporters. “I am disappoint­ed that I didn’t get the second part but I have enjoyed the Olympic experience.” Two years later he took bronze for Wales at the Commonweal­th Games in Kuala Lumpur.

In 1997 Pickering broke the Welsh record for shot put with a throw of 20.45m – placing him sixth in the UK all-time rankings – and if he had replicated it at the World Championsh­ips in Athens that year he would have won a bronze medal, but he finished in 26th position. He won 19 Welsh titles in all, five in the shot put, five in the discus and nine in the hammer, and won all three at the Welsh Championsh­ips on three occasions. His Welsh hammer record, set in 1984, stood until 2017.

Even while he was still competing he was a board member of the British Athletics Federation, as well as a director of the British Athletes Associatio­n, and he remained deeply involved in the domestic scene at both elite and grassroots levels. In 2010 he became the heavy throws coach for UK Athletics.

He used the business nous and global network of contacts he had developed with Canon in his work with the Ron Pickering Memorial Fund, which was establishe­d in honour of Ron, who died in 1991. “Being known as Ron Pickering’s son opened many doors and introduced me to many great people,” he said.

More than £2 million has been awarded to promising youngsters; the Fund bought an up-and-coming runner who had come over from Somaliland his first pair of spikes. Mo Farah went on to win four Olympic distance medals.

Pickering’s passion for athletics could tip over into argumentat­iveness, but he had inherited the charisma and determinat­ion of his parents and remained a perenniall­y popular figure who helped a host of athletes make their way in the sport.

Shaun Pickering, born November 14 1961, died May 11 2023

 ?? ?? Pickering came from a famous sporting family
Pickering came from a famous sporting family

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