COVID: Former track and field athlete dies in North Carolina



Lee Vernon McNeill

Lee Vernon McNeill

Screenshot of GoFundMe

A man known for his track and field competitions – setting long-standing records at his college and ascending to the Olympics – has died from coronavirus in North Carolina.

Lee Vernon McNeill, a former East Carolina University star runner, struggled to breathe after being diagnosed with coronavirus in late August, his family said.

“COVID is a nasty beast …” her sister, Tasha Simpson, told McClatchy News in a phone interview. “It had a few ups and downs and then little by little it had to be broken down. “

McNeill had been in the hospital for weeks before he died on Wednesday. He was 56, according to his sister.

McNeill grew up in St. Pauls, North Carolina, and attended the University of East Carolina, approximately 80 miles east of Raleigh. He still holds “the school records in the 55-meter indoor scorecard and the 100-yard outdoor scorecard,” the school’s track and field media relations department said in a report. -mail.

He was a sprinter who won gold medals in the 4×100 relay at the 1987 Pan American Games and the 1987 World Championships, according to the Olympics website.

The following year McNeill competed in the 4 x 100 at the Olympic games in Seoul. The Soviet Union team came out on top.

Simpson said his brother was a hard worker who stayed humble and dedicated his time to jobs at Amazon and Bojangles, where he spent more than 30 years.

But he hasn’t forgotten his track roots. McNeill shared his talents with others at Soaring Eagles Track Club at Garner, just outside of Raleigh.

“It was amazing for me to watch him just how he worked with kids,” Simpson said. “He’s going to come down and show them what to do.”

Simpson said his brother smiles “all the time” and leaves behind a close-knit family.

“It was one real life superheroes ”, she told The Robesonian newspaper. “You could touch it; he made mistakes, but there is nothing he cannot do.

During the pandemic, health officials urged people to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Although McNeill did not get his vaccine, his sister said he planned to get one after he was released from the hospital.

Her family encourages others to get vaccinated, Simpson said.

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Simone Jasper is a reporter covering breaking news for The News & Observer and real-time news in the Carolinas.


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