ONE OF THE COUNTRY’S BEST-LOVED COMMENTATORS, STUART STOREY, LOOKS BACK ON AN AMAZING CAREER
Stuart Storey looks back on his career as an athletics commentator
“NEITHER DAVID COLEMAN, RON PICKERING NOR MYSELF WOULD GET BBC COMMENTARY JOBS TODAY BECAUSE WE HAVEN’T GOT A WORLD OR OLYMPIC GOLD MEDAL AROUND OUR NECKS”
ONE of Britain’s greatest sports commentators, Stuart Storey, hangs up his microphone this autumn after 44 years of covering the biggest athletics meetings on the planet. The 75-year-old worked on his final athletics event in Brussels earlier this month and will commentate on the Berlin Marathon for Eurosport on September 24 and Cardiff Half-Marathon for BBC Wales on October 1 before leaving the job to enjoy his retirement.
“After 44 years, it’s time to stop,” he told AW at the Diamond League in Birmingham recently. “It was a privilege to work alongside David Coleman and Ron Pickering and then Brendan Foster came in and joined us. So when Brendan said
he was retiring I thought ‘now I can be the last’. I’m pleased he’s retired, so I can now go too! I want to get back to the golf course and other things as well, although I’ll miss covering athletics – it’s been a great job.”
Storey will forever be synonymous with a golden era of athletics commentary on the BBC during the 1980s. But he started life in television commentary in 1973 after he had enjoyed a career as a top sprint hurdler.
As a teenager he won two English Schools titles and went on to represent Great Britain in the 1968 Olympics and 1969 European Championships and England at the 1970 Commonwealth Games. He has fond memories of racing fellow Brits like Alan Pascoe and top Americans like Richmond Flowers and
Olympic champion Willie Davenport in front of 35,000 spectators at the White City.
He remembers: “You had to warm up on the line because you didn’t want to put a trench in the track.”
More recently, at a Diamond League event in Shanghai, he amused Allen Johnson, the Olympic and three-time world champion, with tales of how he trained in the 1960s.
“He was crying with laughter at how I’d trained for the Olympics over three homemade barriers at the local bowls green,” says Storey, “with someone stopping people walking out on the bowls green when I was running over the hurdles.”
His own athletics excellence put him in good stead for a career as a sports
commentator. Although his talent was first spotted at a basketball match.
“I started in 1973 as a result of my wife, who was an international basketball player, doing the first ever courtside commentary in Britain,” he explains. “Someone heard what I was doing, heard I was an Olympian, thought my voice was quite good and that I should come and try out.”
Storey was soon asked to work alongside the legendary Coleman, who ironically had commentated on Storey during his run-up to the Mexico Olympics. “At my first major meeting I sat with David in the commentary box at end of ’73 or start of ’74 and he said to me, ‘this is television and the commentator says what the picture does not say’.
As well as being a TV commentator and Olympian, Stuart Storey is chair of the Ron Pickering Memorial Fund
Stuart Storey: poised
to bring to an end a 44-year career as an athletics commentator