Reynold S. “Rey” O’Neal, OBE – Biography

Reynold S. "Rey" O'Neal

Reynold S. “Rey” O’Neal

Born: British Virgin Islands, March 3, 1949
Co-founder and President BVIAA – 1970 – 1973, 1978 – 2004
Co-founder and President BVIOC – 1980 – 1984, 1989 – 2006

Rey O’Neal attended high school at St. Joseph’s Academy in Antigua, graduating in December, 1963 with the Senior Cambridge School Certificate. Studied at Inter-American University in San German, Puerto Rico from 1964-1968 graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree.

O’Neal taught at the Virgin Islands (later Elmore Stoutt High School) from 1969 to 1977. Housemaster of Lincoln House, later renamed O’Neal House, in the school’s intramural competition.

After ending his teaching career, O’Neal retained his connection with education in the Territory, chairing at different times, the BVI Scholarships Committee and the local Caribbean Examinations Council Commission and also serving on the Teaching Service Commission and the Education Advisory Board.

O’Neal was a member of the BVI Recreation Trust for over twenty-five years and, away from sports and education, also served as a member of the Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse.

O’Neal was one of the founding members of the BVI Amateur Athletic Association (BVIAAA) in 1970 and became President later that year, a stint that lasted until 1973. In 1978 he assumed the office once more and retained the position until 2004 when he stepped down in favour of his protege, Ephraim Penn.

In 1975 Rey O’Neal, along with Johnny Hassan, led the first British Virgin Islands team to compete in the Central American and Caribbean Athletics Championships, held that year in Ponce, Puerto Rico.

Among the members of that team were high school athletes, Ephraim Penn and Dean Greenaway, who both became future leaders of the Association and Rose Phillips, who served for many years as the Association’s secretary.

While the BVIAAA gained international recognition as a member of the IAAF, except for softball, there were no other national sporting associations/federations affiliated to their international governing bodies.

In 1979 the Pan American Games were held in San Juan, Puerto Rico and it became clear that without a national Olympic Committee the Territory would always be excluded from those and other Games.

An Olympic Committee of sorts was formed in 1980 and two years later, with O’Neal as the first President and Hassan the Secretary General, the BVI was accepted as a member of the International Olympic Committee and made its first appearance at the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games in Havana, Cuba.

The following year, the BVI made its debut at the Pan American Games.

In 1984 a team of four track athletes and five sailors marched into the Olympic Stadium in Los Angeles, stamping themselves as the first Olympians ever from the Territory.

That would be O’Neal’s last Olympic Games until Atlanta 1996.

O’Neal was the complete official team, with one competitor in athletics when the BVI first appeared at the Commonwealth Games in New Zealand in 1990. In his capacity as President, and finally Vice-President of the BVI Athletic Association, he attended the first ten editions of the IAAF World Championships in Athletics.

Over the years O’Neal has held several positions in track and field, first as a member of the CAC Technical Committee and for several years as a member and then Chairman of the CAC Statistics Committee.

As a member of the International Association of Track and Field Statisticians, O’Neal often functioned as a resource person for several regional Federations and helped to select the teams that would represent the Americas at the IAAF World Cup. He became Vice-President of North America, Central America and the Caribbean (NACAC) confederation in 1997 and held the position until he resigned in 2003.

O’Neal was a member of the Central American and Caribbean Athletic Association Confederation (CACAC) Executive Committee for nineteen years. He was also chosen to lead the Oraganisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Athletics Commission in 1991, ironically, the last year in which the OECS Championships were held.

In 2003 O’Neal was awarded the IAAF Veteran’s Pin and the following year was named to the CAC Hall of Fame.

In 2005 Rey O’Neal was honoured as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire and received his medal from Princess Anne, daughter of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, and a two-time member of Great Britain’s Olympic equestrian team.