|Birth name||Leslie James O'Connell|
|Born||23 May 1958|
Timaru, New Zealand
|Height||193 cm (6 ft 4 in)|
|Weight||89 kg (196 lb)|
|Club||Avon Rowing Club|
O'Connell learned to row on Saltwater Creek in Timaru, and in Timaru Harbour. In 1978, he was New Zealand champion with Chris Booker in the double sculls for the Timaru Rowing Club. He moved to Christchurch in 1990 so that he could train with the Avon Rowing Club, at the time one of the three main rowing clubs in the country.
At the 1982 World Rowing Championships at Rotsee, Switzerland, he won a gold medal with the New Zealand eight seated in the bow. At the end of that year, the 1982 rowing eight crew was named sportsman of the year. O'Connell then changed to a coxed four and at the 1983 World Rowing Championships in Duisburg, Germany, he won gold with Conrad Robertson, Greg Johnston, Keith Trask, and Brett Hollister as cox. He qualified for the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles and was put in a coxless four (the coxed four is not included as an Olympic event), and teamed with Shane O'Brien, Conrad Robertson, and Keith Trask. Helped by the absence of the Eastern Bloc countries including the favourites from the Soviet Union and East Germany, the New Zealand coxless four won an unexpected gold medal. At the 1985 World Rowing Championships at Hazewinkel in Belgium, he came fourth with the coxless four.
O'Connell won further national championships in 1984 (coxless pair) and 1986 (coxless four).
The 1982 men's eight team was inducted into the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame in 1995. In 2013, The Timaru Herald had a campaign to have missing sports personalities added to Timaru's Hall of Fame, and O'Connell received the most votes from readers of the newspaper. As of October 2016, O'Connell has not been added to their Hall of Fame.
- Evans, Hilary; Gjerde, Arild; Heijmans, Jeroen; Mallon, Bill. "Les O'Connell". Olympics at Sports-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 28 October 2016.
- "Company Profile". LOC Construction. Retrieved 29 October 2016.
- Piddington, Stu (26 March 2013). "Rower O'Connell tops poll". The Timaru Herald. Retrieved 29 October 2016.
- Piddington, Stu (22 March 2013). "Some glaring omissions in district Hall of Fame". The Timaru Herald. Retrieved 29 October 2016.
- "(M8+) Men's Eight - Final". International Rowing Federation. Archived from the original on 8 October 2015. Retrieved 5 October 2015.
- "1980's [sic]". Halberg Awards. Retrieved 5 October 2015.[permanent dead link]
- "(M4+) Men's Coxed Four - Final". International Rowing Federation. Retrieved 29 October 2016.
- Evans, Hilary; Gjerde, Arild; Heijmans, Jeroen; Mallon, Bill. "Rowing at the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Games: Men's Coxless Fours". Olympics at Sports-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 29 October 2016.
- "(M4+) Men's Four - Final". International Rowing Federation. Retrieved 29 October 2016.
- "Les O'Connell". New Zealand Olympic Committee. Retrieved 28 October 2016.
- "Eight, 1982". New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on 13 January 2015. Retrieved 5 October 2015.
- "Hall of Fame". Timaru District Council. Retrieved 28 October 2016.
- "LES O'CONNELL BUILDERS LIMITED". Coys. Retrieved 28 October 2016.
| New Zealand Sportsman of the Year
With: Tony Brook, George Keys, Dave Rodger, Mike Stanley, Andrew Stevenson, Chris White, Roger White-Parsons, Andy Hay