Road To The Olympic Games

Jerry Tonello, ex-Canadian wheelchair basketball coach, dies at 59 of brain tumour

Jerry Tonello. who coached Canada's men's wheelchair basketball team to gold at the 2012 London Paralympics, has died. He was 59. The Toronto native stepped down from his coaching role last May while undergoing treatment for a brain tumour.

Toronto native guided team to gold at 2012 London Paralympics

Longtime Canadian wheelchair basketball coach Jerry Tonello, seen here at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics, has died at age 59 of a brain tumour. The Toronto native guided the men's team at four Paralympic Games and won gold in 2012 in London. Tonello was associate head coach of the squad that won silver in Beijing and assistant coach of the team that won gold in 2000 in Sydney and finished fifth in 1996 in Atlanta. (Kevin Bogetti-Smith/Wheelchair Basketball Canada)

Jerry Tonello, who coached Canada's men's wheelchair basketball team to gold at the 2012 London Paralympics, has died. He was 59.

The Toronto native stepped down from his coaching role last May while undergoing treatment for a brain tumour.

"Jerry was a tremendously well-respected coach," Gaetan Tardif, president of the Canadian Paralympic Committee, said in a statement. "Bringing a work ethic instilled by his parents to his job on the sidelines, he made a remarkable contribution to the national wheelchair basketball program over many years."

Tonello coached Canada's men's team at four Paralympic Games. He was the associate head coach of the squad that won silver at the 2008 Beijing Games, and assistant coach of the team that won gold in 2000 in Sydney and finished fifth in 1996 in Atlanta.

He also coached at four Parapan American Games from 1999 to 2011.

"On behalf of the Canadian Paralympic Committee, our heartfelt condolences to Jerry's family, friends, and the sport community," said Tardif said.

Tonello played numerous sports growing up including football and basketball. He is recognized in Canada as the first able-bodied player to compete at the national wheelchair basketball championships in 1992, although able-bodied players had been competing in the Canadian Wheelchair Basketball League since 1989.

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