01/07/2016 10:31 EST | Updated 01/07/2017 00:12 EST

Canada's longtime wheelchair basketball coach Tonello has died at 59

OTTAWA — 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.



The Canadian Press