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Esteemed commentator David Coleman dies

The IAAF is saddened by the news that respected athletics commentator David Coleman died on 21 December at the age of 87.

Born in Cheshire on 26 April 1926, Coleman commentated on every Olympics from 1960 to 2000, and such was the quality of his work over that long period that in 2000, the year he retired, he became the first broadcaster or journalist to be awarded the Olympic Order, the highest honour to be bestowed by the International Olympic Committee. Eight years earlier he was awarded the OBE for services to broadcasting.

Coleman was himself a useful runner before an achilles tendon injury cut short his career. Professionally, he was a successful journalist before turning to television and he made his first TV appearance on the very day that Roger Bannister made athletics history, 6 May 1954.

With his encyclopaedic knowledge and distinctive delivery, he developed into Britain’s foremost sports presenter. Perhaps his finest, but most poignant, moment as a broadcaster was his marathon stint describing the 1972 Munich Olympic siege as it unfolded, bringing into play his journalistic background.

“David always said he would give up everything to be an Olympian like the rest of us in the commentary box; well, he was,” said former Olympic sprint hurdler Stuart Storey, his co-commentator from 1974. “He was an Olympian of television. As an all-round broadcaster I think he was the greatest.”

He leaves a wife, Barbara, and six children.