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  Thursday, 16 November, 2000, 18:04 GMT
David Coleman
Although known as one of television's leading sports commentators, David Coleman's early career began as an athlete.

In 1949 he became the only non-international to win the Manchester Mile.

Unfortunately, injury put an end to his dream of continuing his career and David turned to reporting on the Stockport Express and, while in the services, worked with the British Army Newspaper Unit.

Later, he joined Kemsley Newspapers and, at 22, became editor of the County Press, Cheshire - one of the youngest editors in the country.

In 1953 he started freelance radio work in Manchester and the following year joined the BBC in Birmingham as a news assistant. He was appointed Sports Editor, Midland Region, in November 1955.

David was picked by the Head of Sport, Peter Dimmock, to front the new sports magazine programme, Grandstand and made his first television broadcast in May 1954 on the day Roger Bannister became the first man in history to break the four minute mile.

Since then he has covered many major sporting events and occasions, including 16 Olympic Games, eight Commonwealth Games, World Cup Football, the Grand National and the FA Cup Final.

As well as presenting Grandstand, he also fronted Sports Review of the Year for many years.

He first co-hosted it in 1961 - the year Stirling Moss won - and last shared the presentation in 1983, but that was far from his last contribution to the programme as he continued with interviews and reports.

It is as a commentator that David has made his mark, communicating the emotion and excitement of events such as Ann Packer's 800m win at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

It was calculated that, when describing David Hemery's 400m hurdle race at the 1968 Mexico Olympics, he achieved the remarkable rate of 200 words per minute.

As Hemery himself put it: "His voice actually engenders some of the adrenaline that people identify with, and he can create such a spirit of excitement that it helps people to live in the moment".

Since 1984, he has concentrated on athletics commentary and presented A Question of Sport, the longest-running television quiz programme, for 18 years.

David was a leading light in the BBC TV team which won the International Olympic Committee's Golden Rings Award for the best television broadcaster at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics - a feat that they repeated in Sydney.

He was awarded the OBE in the New Years Honours List in 1992 for Services to Broadcasting and The Judges Award for Sport in the 1996 Royal Television Society Awards.


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