Ex-BBC Sportscaster David Coleman Dies at 87

David Coleman - P - 2013
Associated Press

The public broadcaster covered 11 Olympic Games from Rome in 1960 to Sydney 2000 and six football World Cups.

LONDON -- Former BBC sportscaster David Coleman has died after a short illness. He was 87.

Coleman, one of the public broadcaster's go-to sports commentators and TV presenters, spent more than 40 years at the BBC.

BBC director general Tony Hall led the corporation's tributes to the man and his career.

"David Coleman was one of this country's greatest and most respected broadcasters," Hall said. "Generations grew up listening to his distinctive and knowledgeable commentary. Whether presenting, commentating or offering analysis, he set the standard for all today's sports broadcasters. Our thoughts are with his family and many friends."

Coleman first appeared front of a camera for the BBC in 1954 and went on to cover 11 Olympic Games from Rome in 1960 to Sydney 2000 and six football World Cups.

He was also the face of a slew of BBC sports programs including the now defunct Saturday afternoon sports roundup and magazine show Grandstand, before competition caused the public broadcaster's TV rights to major events to decrease.

Coleman also played quizmaster and host to comedy quiz show Question of Sport for 18 years. He was awarded an OBE in 1992 and retired from the BBC in 2000.

Later that year he became the first broadcaster to receive the Olympic Order award, in recognition of his contribution to the Olympic movement.

A statement from his family said: "We regret to announce the death of David Coleman OBE, after a short illness. He died peacefully with his family at his bedside."

Director of sport Barbara Slater described Coleman as "a giant in the sports broadcasting world, an iconic and hugely respected figure."

In his BBC career "he set the standard that so many others have tried to emulate," Slater noted.

Coleman also inspired a column dedicated to on-air gaffes by commentators in the famous British satirical weekly magazine Private Eye named "Colemanballs," such was his popularity and constant presence on TV and radio.