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News broke on Sunday that one of Australian cycling’s most-loved figures, Gary West, had lost his battle with Motor Neurone Disease, aged just 57.
West was head coach of Australia’s track sprint program from 2009 to 2016 and guided his riders to 22 gold medals at Olympic, Commonwealth and World Championship level in that time. Perhaps his biggest achievement as coach was guiding Anna Meares to gold in the sprint at the 2012 London Olympics, where Meares beat long-time rival Victoria Pendleton.
West was a great racer in his own right, having been part of the gold-medal-winning team pursuit squad at the 1982 Commonwealth Games in Brisbane. He also rode for his country at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.
West stood down from his role as head coach after the Rio Olympics, having revealed in October 2016 that he was battling Motor Neurone Disease.
In the days following West’s passing, social media has been replete with tributes for a man who was loved and respected by a great many.
My first coach. Such a great man, and a great coach. RIP Gary West. You will be missed. https://t.co/aUu8egxXpb
— Carlee Taylor (@carleetaylor1) August 20, 2017
— Annette Edmondson (@NettieEdmo) August 20, 2017
So sad to hear Gary West lost his battle with MND. He was truly an amazing man. Such a cruel disease. Love to his family. Rest In Peace. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/F6TAZAkBzX
— Rebecca Wiasak (@RebeccaWiasak) August 20, 2017
So saddened to hear of the passing of Gary. A legend who will be missed by so many. RIP Westy https://t.co/LCigpNIOWd
— Alex Manly (@alex_manly) August 20, 2017
— Sam Welsford (@sam_welsford) August 20, 2017
— Tim Decker (@TimDecker7) August 20, 2017
The World can be very unfair sometimes.Gary commited his life to cycling & getting the best out of others.He was a true Gentleman. RIP mate pic.twitter.com/O7Bp2TRN5w
— Stuart O'Grady OLY (@StueyOG) August 20, 2017
Sad to hear of the passing of Gary West after a battle with MND. He was a great man and coach who gave so much to our sport. pic.twitter.com/AoSZPBYSm3
— Brian Cookson OBE (@BrianCooksonOBE) August 20, 2017
— Tiffany Jane (@tiffanycromwell) August 20, 2017
Never ever give up… I echoed my whole career ethos with that race today, for @GaryMartinWest my first cycling coach… thankyou Gary ❤🚴
— Rachel Neylan OLY (@rachneylan) August 20, 2017
Our thoughts are with Gary's family and friends. He was a true champion of the sport, a tough competitor and a good man. We'll miss him. https://t.co/0VagVUJF0J
— British Cycling (@BritishCycling) August 20, 2017
Today our cycling world lost a great man, & I lost a good mate. Gary West battled MND for the past year like the champ he was. RIP mate. https://t.co/qeue4RYOiQ
— Justin Grace ⚫️ (@G_Racecycling) August 20, 2017
Goodbye my friend Gary West. We sat side by side for the best 8yrs of my working life. We argued, joked, laughed, lost & won. A great team. pic.twitter.com/6LMLRo1SoQ
— Scott Baker (@Scotty_Baker) August 20, 2017
Our thoughts go out to Gary West's family, friends and the whole cycling community. https://t.co/cULiKoXkk8
— Cadel Road Race (@CadelRoadRace) August 21, 2017
Very sad news today with the passing of Australian cycling coach Gary West after a battle with MND. A great man and a great coach.
— Reece Homfray (@reecehomfray) August 20, 2017
We, and the Australian cycling community, are saddened today by the passing of Gary West. RIP Gary. Our thoughts are with family & friends. pic.twitter.com/Pw0gsRHdYu
— Mitchelton-SCOTT (@MitcheltonSCOTT) August 20, 2017
Rest in peace Gary West. I had the privilege to race against your athletes and witness their immense respect for you. Wishes to his family
— Sam Webster (@SammyWebster) August 20, 2017
— Tracey Gaudry (@gaudryt) August 20, 2017
I'm forever thankful to Gary West for giving me an opportunity at 2012 worlds. Thank you for your time and dedication to this sport. #rip
— James Glasspool (@JamesGlasspool) August 20, 2017