John F. Lawlor- an icon of Irish hammer throwing


The death took  place on Sunday last, May 20th, of John F. Lawlor- an icon of Irish hammer throwing.

The highlight of Lawlor’s career was his fourth place the 1960 Olympics in Rome, throwing 64.95 meters , just .69m short of the bronze medal. This was even more impressive as the competitor's bus got stuck in traffic on the way to Rome’s Olympic Stadium and Lawlor only had time for two warm-up throws. He also competed in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics where he finished 23rd in the qualifying round, narrowly missing out on a place for the final.

John Lawlor won his first Irish hammer title in 1955, with Civil Service Harriers & Athletic Club- an achievement that earned him a scholarship to Boston University in the USA. He left Ireland for Boston in September 1956.  A three-time All-American in the hammer he held the record for 27 consecutive victories in his specialist event.

Lawlor enjoyed great success throughout his career- setting the  NCAA hammer record as well as winning the national title three times, first in 1958 and then again in 1959 and 1960. He went on to win the British AAAs hammer title in 1961, while attending Boston University. He also won the bronze medal at the1961 World University Games with a throw of 63.33m. While studying at Boston University he was presented with The Scholar of the Year Award in his senior year when he captained the track team.

Another Irish Hammer legend, Phillip Conway, said: “John Lawlor was a giant of a man in many ways".

“John maintained great contact with former of Irish hammer throwers and he was a supporter of many of the future stars of the event.  He invested in money in supporting athletes. He put his shoulder to the wheel.”

Along with being an accomplished member of Civil Service Harriers & Athletic Club, Lawlor also played football, hurling and rugby at St. Joseph's Prep. Later in life, he earned his Ph.D. in geology and became one of New England’s leading geologists.

John's wife Kathleen (nee Kingston), pre-deceased him, and together they had five children.-daughters, Mary and Maeve , twins, John and Paul, and another son, Owen.

Athletics Ireland wish  to extend our deepest sympathies to all John Lawlor's family and friends.  

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