Jim Munkley MBE
The Paralympian James (Jim) Munkley MBE, one of the pioneers of disability sport in Wales sadly died last week. Jim was one of the founding members of Disability Sport Wales, or FSAD as it was then and his involvement and influence was still very valued within the organisation, in his role as Vice President. Jim was a true legend of DSW and his legacy will live on as he made a huge difference to many people’s lives as an athlete, coach, mentor, supporter and friend.
Fiona Reid, CEO for Disability Sport Wales said “Jim was an irreplaceable part of the DSW family. He was the perfect combination of kind, funny, caring, determined, dedicated and passionate – he fought tooth and nail for the interests of those and the things he loved. He is -going to leave a big hole in many, many people’s lives. Our thoughts are with Christine, and those whose lives he influenced and made better by being there.”
Gareth John, DSW President remembered Jim as a colleague for over 25 years “he’s been a stalwart of the organisation, without his unwavering support I am sure that it would not be where it is today. He earned the respect of all who knew him; he loved sport and he had the ability to enthuse others to become involved and to achieve their potential. He will be sorely missed by athletes, volunteers, staff and colleagues”
Jim’s involvement in disabled sport began in 1969 in archery, he also competed in field events but in 1980 he made the decision to concentrate on table tennis which became a huge part of his life for the next 37 years. He was a five-time Paralympian, competed in three World Championships and multiple European Championships. After nearly 40 years competing, in 2008 Jim retired and began his very successful coaching career. Jim’s natural gift for identifying and nurturing talent was recognised throughout his coaching career and highlighted when he was a very proud member of Team Wales in Manchester and Melbourne Commonwealth Games coaching Claire Robertson and Sara Head.
In 1999, Jim was awarded an MBE for his services to sport for the disabled. He was a lifelong and committed founding member of the Welsh Paraplegic and Tetraplegic Sports Association (WPTSA); the driving force behind all the great work they have done as Chair of the organisation. Jim did much more than just contribute to sport, he transformed people’s lives especially the athletes he coached. As a technical coach he was exceptional but he had the ability to nurture people to become athletes and developed them not only in an athletic but a personal context as well. To Jim the athlete was the whole person and they became certified members of the Munkley family.
Sara Head, Paralympian coached by Jim said, “Not only was Jim an incredible coach he was an inspirational mentor and friend. He was the godfather of Para Table Tennis in Wales helping people achieve their dreams. Our dreams were Jim’s dream and he was ever so proud when we achieved them. Jim was passionate and caring, he would help people adapt to their disability with his invaluable advice and support. He was inspiration and helped people live their lives to the maximum when they thought it was over. He knew how to treat a person in a way that was best for them and was available 24 hours a day as a support. Thanks to Jim many people including myself achieved what we thought was impossible. Jim was like my second father, what he gave me was priceless.”
Thomas Matthews, GB athlete talks of how Jim had a massive impact on his life, “I do not know where I would be without Jim. He showed me there was a life after my accident and has taught me everything I know since my injury. He was the person who made me see that I could play table tennis, he always believed in me and I thank him for everything he helped me achieve in life and as an athlete. Jim inspired and transformed people’s lives, he was a role model and legend who will be greatly missed. He truly was the best second dad anyone could have wished for.”
Thomas Matthews and Sara Head have organised a book of condolence which will be placed in Sport Wales National Centre to honour Jim. Please sign and fill the book with all your favourite memories and photographs.
RIP James (Jim) Munkley (1949-2017)