Charity triathlete defies broken shoulder to raise more than £8,000 at the age of 63

PUBLISHED: 18:43 25 July 2018 | UPDATED: 18:43 25 July 2018

John O'Neill on his bike during a practice triathlon. Picture: Robert O'Neill

John O'Neill on his bike during a practice triathlon. Picture: Robert O'Neill


Crouch End’s John O’Neill, 63, has raised over £8,000 for the charity Inquest ahead of taking part in the London Triathlon on August 5, despite breaking his shoulder two years ago in a hit and run accident.

John O'Neill takes a breath during a sprint triathlon. Picture: Robert O'NeillJohn O'Neill takes a breath during a sprint triathlon. Picture: Robert O'Neill

John’s charity effort is in memory of James Herbert, the son of his close friend Tony, who lost his life in 2010 whilst in police custody, along with others who have died in similar circumstances.

John told the Ham&High: “Eight years ago James died in Yeovil whilst under arrest, he was suffering from mental health problems at the time.

“Back then, I wanted to do something to show solidarity with Tony and his family, so I ran the Crouch End 10K and raised £3,000.

After the success of the 10K, which John ran in 2013, he decided to give it another go but with a bigger challenge: an olympic-length triathlon.

Unfortunately, while training disaster struck.

“I was cycling up by the Spaniards pub in Hampstead when I was the victim of a hit and run. I had a really serious fracture to my shoulder.

“I remember being at the Whittington Hospital, where my excellent consultant told me that, at my age, my chances of doing a triathlon were quite small.”

However, after a staggering recovery, John is raring to go.

He added “I am 63 now and I’ve recovered so well, I think, because of my determination to get back to fitness to do this.

“I appeal to all local residents who are interested in truth, justice and accountability to find out more about Inquest and to support us.

“This is a tough challenge for an old geezer like me, and if you spot me training then words of encouragement are also very welcome.”

Inquest, who John is fundraising for, supports families bereaved following a state-related contentious death, whether it happens in custody and detention, or where there are issues of state accountability - such as in the Grenfell Tower fire.

The London Triathlon’s olympic distance involves a a 1500m swim, 40km bike, and a 10km run. Last year, there were only 18 competitors in John’s age range.

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