With a heavy heart, we share the sad news that one of our most dedicated Technical Officials, Gayle Anderson, passed away during this past week. Many of you will recognise Gayle from the many Oceania Championships and Pacific Games events that she attended as one of our leading technical officials, others will remember Gayle’s time on the Cook Islands when she worked with the Federation as a Development Officer.
Gayle officiated at numerous national and international competitions and was a regular technical official at Oceania events from the early 2000s until the most recent Area Championships in 2019. She was appointed to Oceania Championships and Regional Championships in Cairns, Townsville, Cook Islands, Fiji, New Zealand, Northern Mariana Islands and Tahiti. Gayle was also a regular at Pacific Games, Mini-Games, and Micronesian Games and was appointed to the Cook Islands, Palau, Samoa, and Wallis and Futuna Games.
Gayle was a national level heptathlete who maintained a strong involvement in the sport as a technical official, coach and administrator both in Australia and Oceania after her retirement. In 2012, Gayle was recognised by Oceania Athletics, for her untiring work as a Member of the Oceania Athletics Family, with the presentation of an Oceania Athletics Association Merit Award.
Gayle was a versatile official, as is shown by the roles to which she was appointed at major international competitions, including; the 2000 Olympics (throws judge), 2000 Paralympics (throws and jumps judge; track umpire), 2001 IAAF Grand Prix Final (throws and jumps judge) and 2006 Commonwealth Games (track umpire and lap scorer) and again at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast. Gayle was a regular on the Start Panel at Oceania events, one of the only women in the early 2000s to be included as a Starter or Start Referee or Start Area Co-ordinator. She was one of the first Oceania officials to use electronic distance measuring and computerised field recording when others were reluctant to explore new areas.
Gayle was also a highly qualified coach, accredited at Level 4 for sprints, hurdles, relays, middle and long-distance, indicating her versatility and breadth of knowledge and skills. Gayle has been a prominent figure in the school sports movement in Australia, both as a teacher and organiser of teams and events. Gayle was recognised through Life Membership of the Victorian Branch of the Australian Track and Field Coaches Association.
Importantly both as an official and a coach, Gayle has worked in the wider Oceania region, including a lengthy period in the Cook Islands in officiating and coach education and as a Development Officer. This week, tributes have flowed from throughout the Oceania Region for Gayle, with Athletics Cook Islands leading the way.
With great sadness, Athletics Cook Islands farewells our friend Gayle Anderson; may she rest in love and peace. Many of us in the Pacific Islands will be very sad to hear of the passing of Gayle. Gayle was forever generous with her time and expertise across the Pacific Federations in our early years of growth, sharing her intense interest in development and passion for all things Athletics. She was a familiar face amongst the family of volunteers who travelled to the Oceania Championships and became the friendly face that we looked forward to seeing as Pacific athletes, Managers and Officials. In the Cook Islands, we were very blessed to have Gayle live in Rarotonga and travel to the outer islands. Gayle has many friends who will be saddened to hear of her passing, and on their behalf, we extend our condolences and love to her family. “Arere ra Gayle, we cherish our memories of you and are grateful for your contributions to the development of athletics in our country. It was an honour to have known and worked alongside you.” Tribute by Anne Tierney, Life Member, Athletics Cook Islands and Life Member, Oceania Athletics.
We would like to share further tributes from our Member Federations where Gayle shared her knowledge and love of Athletics.
“Condolences to Gayle’s family from the Fiji Athletics Family. May she rest in eternal peace.”
“Athletics Solomon Islands sends our deepest condolences to the family of Gayle. May you rest in eternal peace. Our prayers are with your family at this time of bereavement.”
“Tahiti (PYF) sends our sincere condolences to the friends and family of Gayle Anderson; may your rest be sweet.”
American Samoa, “May our gracious Lord, grant your family peace Gayle and thank you for your never-ending devotion and works for us islanders! May the rest of us strive t do as you do. Faafetai Tele Gayle and happy heavenly trip.”
Marshall Islands, “we want to put our condolences to our friend Gayle Anderson, may you rest in peace.”
“Condolences from Vanuatu Athletics to the family and friends of Gayle Anderson in this great moment of loss, may her soul rest easy until the glories morning.”
Oceania Athletics President, Robin Sapong-Eugenio, sent his deepest condolences from the Oceania Council to Gayle’s family and friends. Executive Director, Yvonne Papadimos, said ‘Gayle’s presence at our events in the Oceania Region was a given; there was never a Championship or Games when Gayle wasn’t there. She was a great friend to all of us in Oceania, and her love of the Pacific was evident whenever she was with us; we will miss everything about Gayle.”