KOCHI: Tony Daniel, 66, the technical committee chairman of the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) and the executive vice-president of Kerala State Athletics Association (KSAA), passed away in Kochi on Wednesday.
Tony served as of KSAA secretary for eight years and was associated with the Kerala State Sports Council organising numerous state, university, inter-university, national and international competitions across the country.
He was the deputy competition manager for the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi and the competition director (athletics) at 2016 South Asian Games in Guwahati. He was also India's team manager during the 2017 IAAF World Championships in London. Tony and AFI secretary C K Valson were the only Indians named the Asian technical officer. He was also an International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) technical officer and lecturer.
“It is a great loss for AFI. Tony was an experienced member of the AFI family. He will be missed a lot,” said AFI president Adille J Sumariwalla.
“I spoke to him at 7 am on Wednesday. His death has come as a shock. I have lost a close friend,” said Valson. He said Tony had always been with him, playing a major role in conducting all major competitions in India over the years. “I will miss him a lot,” Valson said.
Asian Athletics Association secretary-treasurer Maurice R Nicholas said Tony was a dedicated international technical officer and a familiar face to the Asian family in many of its Asian events. “His passion for athletics saw him serving in various capacities in AFI as its joint secretary and technical committee chairman up to the time of his death. Asia has lost a great friend and a dedicated colleague. We will miss him,” Nicholas said.
Tony attended the 16th Federation Cup Junior Athletics Championship held in Coimbatore earlier this week and had only returned to Kochi on Monday. He was also a mentor for many of Kerala's athletes and officers.
“He was always there to help whenever we needed him. I have known him since my days at Alphonsa College, Pala. It is a very sad news to hear," said former long-distance runner Preeja Sreedharan.
“He did not lose an ounce of passion for the sport until his death,” said athlete P T Usha, adding, “He was a presence wherever we went for a competition. His administration of the state athletics body helped our athletes reap rewards on national and international stages. Though aged 66, Tony exuded the enthusiasm of a youngster,” said Usha.
Born in Ernakulam on January 17, 1952, Tony was a state sprint champion and represented Kerala at junior and senior national championships between 1968 and 1972. He obtained a PhD in physical education after his athletics career and retired as the Head of the Department of St Xavier's College for Women, Aluva after 30 years of service.
He is survived by wife Lissy, who retired as a teacher from Chev CP Luiz Memorial Anglo-Indian High School here, and daughter Ami Sandra, a software engineer based in the US. The funeral will be held at 3 pm on Friday at Mount Carmel Church, Chathiyath.