John Powell | Discus legend death and obituary, cause of death

Discus legend John Powell passes at age 75 last night Thursday August 18th in Las Vegas.
Friends, Dan John just informed Weight City that John’s wife reported to him, that John Powell passed away last night.

Attached image is from when John Garvey last met John at the Palms Casino in August 2018 in Las Vegas for a burger. Known as the Roadrunner I had the privilege to learn from John Powell at his Stanford Track Throwing Camps and throw with him often. John once told me to write his obituary when the time comes as I reminded people he was the best pound for pound thrower with a 221 toss; and weight in on scale at 221 the very same day.
Here below is the incredible quoted piece written by Dan John, as a lasting tribute to our beloved friend. 🙏
“John Powell will be remembered by most Track and Field people for the multiple national championships, Olympic medal, World Championship medal, and a host of other accomplishments. He set the World Record in the discus and had a career that spanned, at the highest level, for decades. In any serious conversation on the best and brightest of the throwers in history, John’s name is always in the first wave.

Like most discus throwers, I have my own John Powell stories. I was a small sophomore in high school when I went down to the College of San Mateo for an all-comers meet. John and Tim Vollmer, fresh from the 1972 Olympics, were both there to throw, too.

I took third. There were only three of us.
I asked for help after we competed. John did something I would see countless times in the next almost six decades of our friendship: he took me aside, gave me some general concepts, showed me the keys to throwing, and told me to get to work. Years later, when I got stuck as a thrower, I contacted him and, once again, he opened his time, treasure, and talents to help me throw farther.

I just figured out that those events were twenty years apart: 1973-1993. In that time, I grew up in the usual ways and John had transitioned from San Jose police officer to full-time discus personality. The number of things that John essentially “invented” still amazes me.

His book, attributed to someone else due to the amateur rules at the time, is still the perfect “go to” for coaches. When videos first became part of our entertainment, John hired professionals to film his discus throwing video which remains the gold standard…and most logical…up to this day. With Bill Witt, they started the discus camp at Denison University and later at many other sites. John was also one of the first on the internet coaching remotely. His training, both in throwing and lifting, was always comprehensive in all the little details for success.

His coaching and professional life reflected this, too. He was always the first with a new idea, concept, or system. His discus camp movies, made during the week of camp, still delight me decades later. Watching my daughters grow up on these videos might still be my greatest sense of joy.
I learned from John, and later his good friend Brian Oldfield, the contrarian approach to life. If everybody is walking to the left, it might be worth your time to look over and see what is missing from walking to the right. If “everybody” was doing “this” in training, John would consider stopping it altogether and try “that” instead. He ran and sprinted probably more than any discus thrower ever, he searched old magazines for pictures to get insights into throwing farther, and asked questions of everybody, in every field, to improve his throws. He would quote Zen masters, Dale Carnegie, and business leaders to outline a subtle point about turning in the discus ring just a bit smoother.

One of my favorite memories of John is his response to a Facebook page dedicated to him. Basically, the title was something like this:
“Those of us who have asked a question of John Powell and walked away more confused than ever.”
When I showed it to him, he loved the page and the posts. He laughed out loud with his Big Laugh and then did his “Huu…huu…huu,” other laugh, as he read our campers stories about asking questions. He then turned to me and said that almost all their questions were posted on the signs that Bill Witt had put up on the first day. John always emphasized this with all of us: life is simple; discus throwing is simple. You must follow the rules, stick to the basics, and build the foundation.

I’ve told this story endless times, but I always come back to it: John was at a camp and told everyone that discus throwing is simple. He had them “Stretch-Twist-Lift-Twist” or “Stretch-1-2-3” as we did literally countless times daily at our camps. If you think 1,000 times a day, you would be around the right number on a normal day. We did more many times.

So, this young man tries, probably too hard, the motions and trips and falls down. He looks up to John and says, famously: “You said it was easy.”
John replied:
“No, I said it was simple, not easy.”
This phrase, “I said it was simple, not easy” has become my coaching mantra. I use it every aspect of my life from saving for retirement to lawncare to raising daughters.
Bill Witt added this:
I always appreciated John’s passion for teaching and sharing his skills. He would strive to equip others with knowledge and insight with a single purpose of having others achieve their personal best. His gift of simplifying complex movement of all the throwing events into easy, concise systems. If you spent enough time with him and gained his trust, that is when one had a chance to see his compassionate side. He’d offer kids equipment or partial scholarships when the need presented. A man with intense drive and competitive spirit for certain. Yet, also one who could show deep concern for others.

Most people never knew how much John donated equipment, shoes, time, coaching, and spaces at his camps and workshops. There was always more room under his arms…held out wide in the STRETCH position.
There is a cliché that one should never meet their heroes. John was my hero and I am better for knowing him, working with him, and spending time with him.
For me, loving John was simple.”

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