The BVI Olympic Committee Executive will be hosting a tribute evening for Mr. Reynold ‘Rey’ O’Neal, OBE on Saturday, January 23, 2016 at Maria’s by the Sea, Tortola.
The BVIOC will celebrate O’Neal’s lifelong work for the advancement of sports in the BVI and in the region with a formal dinner when he will be presented with the prestigious IOC Trophy named in honour of Pierre de Coubertin – “150 Years, Pierre de Coubertin, Sport as a School of Life”. The trophy will be awarded to O’Neal in recognition of his outstanding efforts in promoting and encouraging the practice of sports in the British Virgin Islands and the Caribbean, and for being an inspiration to all involved in sports.
The tribute evening is open to all persons who would like to attend. Ticket proceeds will benefit a scholarship to be awarded to a deserving athlete in honour of Rey O’Neal’s contribution to sports in the territory.
O’Neal, along with Khalil ‘Johnny’ Hassan, Derry Maduro-Fahie, Jim Morris, Mark Vanterpool, and Roy Pickering was one of the founding members and served as the first President of the BVI Olympic Committee (BVIOC) which now enters its 34th year of service since its recognition by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1982.
Known locally to many as a leader and fount of knowledge in all things sport, Rey O’Neal is recognized as a key figure in the history and advancement of sports not only in the BVI but also in the Caribbean, helping to create the foundation on which today’s Caribbean sporting successes have been built.
O’Neal taught at the Virgin Islands (later Elmore Stoutt High School) from 1969 to 1977 where he served as Housemaster of Lincoln House, later renamed O'Neal House, in the school's intramural competition.
O’Neal was one of the founding members of the BVI Amateur Athletic Association (BVIAAA) in 1970 and became President later that year, a stint that lasted until 1973. In 1978 he assumed the office once more and retained the position until 2004.
In 1975 Rey O'Neal, along with Johnny Hassan, led the first British Virgin Islands team to compete in the Central American and Caribbean Athletics Championships, held that year in Ponce, Puerto Rico.
While the BVIAAA gained international recognition as a member of the IAAF, except for softball, there were no other national sporting associations/federations affiliated to their international governing bodies.
In 1979 the Pan American Games were held in San Juan, Puerto Rico and it became clear that without a national Olympic Committee the Territory would always be excluded from those and other Games.
An Olympic Committee of sorts was formed in 1980 and two years later, with O'Neal as the first President and Hassan the Secretary General, the BVI was accepted as a member of the International Olympic Committee and made its first appearance at the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games in Havana, Cuba. The following year, the BVI made its debut at the Pan American Games.
In 1984 a team of four track athletes and five sailors marched into the Olympic Stadium in Los Angeles, stamping themselves as the first Olympians ever from the Territory.
O’Neal was the complete official team, with one competitor in athletics when the BVI first appeared at the Commonwealth Games in New Zealand in 1990. In his capacity as President, and finally Vice-President of the BVI Athletic Association, he attended the first ten editions of the IAAF World Championships in Athletics.
Over the years O'Neal has held several positions in track and field, first as a member of the CAC Technical Committee and for several years as a member and then Chairman of the CAC Statistics Committee.
As a member of the International Association of Track and Field Statisticians, O’Neal often functioned as a resource person for several regional Federations and helped to select the teams that would represent the Americas at the IAAF World Cup. He became Vice-President of North America, Central America and the Caribbean (NACAC) confederation in 1997 and held the position until he resigned in 2003.
O’Neal was a member of the Central American and Caribbean Athletic Association Confederation (CACAC) Executive Committee for nineteen years. He was also chosen to lead the Oraganisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Athletics Commission in 1991, ironically, the last year in which the OECS Championships were held.
In 2003 O’Neal was awarded the IAAF Veteran's Pin and the following year was named to the CAC Hall of Fame. In 2005 Rey O'Neal was honoured as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire and received his medal from Princess Anne, daughter of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, and a two-time member of Great Britain's Olympic equestrian team.