British Gymnastics is sad to announce that former men’s British gymnastics champion and double Olympian, 97-year-old George Weedon, passed away peacefully in Nottinghamshire on 22nd February 2017, after a very short illness.
George was British Men's Gymnastics Floor Champion in 1946, 1947 & 1948 and represented Great Britain in the men's team and individual events at both the 1948 London and 1952 Helsinki Olympic Games. He also coached his late wife Joan (nee Airey) Weedon to 2nd equal place in the vault in the 1948 Olympics, as well as later coaching the national Under-11s school champions.
At the outbreak of WWII, George became a motorbike dispatch rider for Air Raid Precautions (where his father was local depot commander). Several months later, he then volunteered to join the Youth Army at Kingston Barracks, before being assimilated into the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment - guarding strategic locations, including railways and later R101 airships (reportedly, alleviating boredom by accepting a bet to do a handstand on the very top of the tall mooring mast!) In 1941, George helped rehabilitate injured soldiers, promotion to acting Corporal to train fitness to new recruits. Frustratingly for George, in April 1942, whilst going for his Sergeant’s course, he contracted tuberculosis and had to be discharged from the Army on health grounds, before then taking up PE & Sports teaching at schools.
In his home borough of Richmond, George coached youngsters in gymnastics for decades at Richmond (formerly Staveley) Gymnastics Association, and also Sheen Mount primary school and Grey Court secondary school. He was also a physical education teacher at the John Lyon School, Harrow on the Hill, Middlesex from 1950 to 1971 and, following that, at Quainton Hall and Lubavitch House schools. George's gymnastic, age-defying abilities helped him as a popular builder and handyman near his home in Richmond - often scaling rooftops and tree tops, well into his 70s!
When he couldn't any longer perform gymnastics to a standard that satisfied him, George turned to ballroom dancing and excelled at this sufficiently to take part in international competitions, including the World Championships in Japan when he was in his 60s.
In 2011 he featured in an internationally-acclaimed short film titled "Walk Tall" (long-listed by BAFTA) which continues to inspire 'good posture' in others.
George appeared with (then) London Mayor, Boris Johnson, Lord Sebastian Coe and LOCOG to help advance promotion of the 2012 London Olympic Games. He carried the Olympic torch and, in connection with that, was introduced to the Queen at Windsor Castle and then Princess Anne at the British Olympic Association luncheon honouring 1948 British Olympians.
He was interviewed extensively by the media, including some from abroad. They were fascinated by his anecdotes about the 1948 London Olympics and how it compared with its 2012 successor. Their reports included the following:
• George overcame a broken vertebra in his spine, tuberculosis and the loss of a kidney before representing Great Britain.
• Lacking suitable local facilities he built his own high bar from an iron curtain rail wedged between his garden wall and a tree.
• Coached by a former German prisoner of war Helmut Bantz, the team had to cope with a last minute change of Olympic venue due to inclement weather;
• When George competed on the horizontal bar, it was above coarse coconut matting rather than today's thick safety foam.
• George raised eyebrows in the gymnastics establishment by being the first gymnast to compete in shorts - then unheard of - and the first male to include the splits in his floor routine (which is now a compulsory element in it).
George is survived by three sons, a daughter, nine grandchildren and five great grandchildren.
George's legacy includes a primary school playground for which he headlined the fundraising in 2012. He leaves behind so many inspirational and fond memories for his family and friends.
“Challenge yourself daily” was the motto by which he lived a fulfilled, long and happy life!
George's family have asked us to warmly invite people who knew George personally to attend an event to celebrate his life and achievements:
Date: Monday 27th March
Location: Sheen Mount School's main hall, West Temple Sheen, SW14 7RTThe family invite donations to George’s favourite charity.