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SBD Global/December 23, 2013/People and Pop Culture

Veteran BBC Commentator David Coleman Remembered As 'Giant Of Sports Broadcasting'

Veteran sports broadcaster DAVID COLEMAN, who covered 11 Olympic Games and six football World Cups for the BBC, "has died after a short illness at the age of 87," according to Stephen Addison of REUTERS. Coleman "presented some of British television's leading sporting programmes," including Grandstand and Sportsnight, and was the host of the Question of Sport quiz show for 18 years. He was awarded an OBE (Order of the British Empire) in '92 and retired from the BBC in '00 (REUTERS, 12/21). DEADLINE reported Coleman "made his Olympics commenting debut in 1960" (DEADLINE, 12/21). In London, Vanessa Thorpe wrote Coleman was a "dominant voice of television sport for almost four decades." Presenter GARY LINEKER called him "a giant of sports broadcasting. Brilliant, gifted, precise and concise." BBC Dir General TONY HALL said, "David Coleman was one of this country's greatest and most respected broadcasters." BBC Dir of Sport BARBARA SLATER said, "His was one of broadcasting's most authoritative and identifiable voices." Perhaps the "Lord of the Larynx's" greatest skill, according to veteran Guardian sports writer FRANK KEATING, was his "race-reading of successive Olympic 100 metres finals -- identifying eight men tearing straight at him in a 10-second blur." But Coleman's "most important journalistic work" came after the 1972 Munich Olympics murders, in what Keating called "his prolonged and sombre vigil, working off just one distant fixed camera" (GUARDIAN, 12/21).

CLASSIC COLEMANBALLS: In London, Nick Greenslade reported 1976 Olympic 10,000M Bronze Medalist BRENDAN FOSTER called him “the greatest sports broadcaster that ever lived.” Liberal Democrat MP and former athlete MENZIES CAMPBELL said, "In the 1960s and 70s, no Olympic Games was complete without the commentaries of this remarkable broadcaster." Inevitably, Coleman "had his share of on-air gaffes which led to the satirical magazine Private Eye dubbing its collection of commentator howlers Colemanballs." Famous entries from Coleman included: “A truly international field, no Britons involved” and “That’s the fastest time ever run but it’s not as fast as the world record.” He was "even given the dubious honour of appearing in puppet form in the Spitting Image series." Some of his "Classic Colemanballs" include: “He just can’t believe what’s not happening to him.” “It’s gold or nothing ... and it’s nothing. He comes away with the silver medal.” “The front wheel crosses the finish line, closely followed by the back wheel.” “Nobody has ever won the title twice before. He (ROGER BLACK) has already done that” (SUNDAY TIMES, 12/22).
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