London 2012 boss from Highbury says Arsenal title win still best sporting moment

12:37 31 December 2012

Neale Coleman was director of London 2012 at the GLA

Neale Coleman was director of London 2012 at the GLA


He is a key figure behind the success of London 2012 – yet his fondest sporting memory still revolves around his beloved Arsenal and their miraculous 1989 title win.

Highbury resident Neale Coleman has been recognised with a CBE in the New Year Honours list as one of the unsung heroes of the Olympics and Paralympics.

As the director of London 2012 within the Greater London Authority, he was the Mayor of London’s right hand man from the outset, when Ken Livingstone was in the hot seat.

But when asked what his highlight was, the 59-year-old and lifelong Arsenal fan, who lives in Elfort Road near the Emirates Stadium where he has a season ticket, said: “I was fortunate enough to be in the Olympic Stadium the night Mo Farah won the 5,000 metres.

“The only better sporting occasion that I’ve witnessed was when I was lucky enough to be at Anfield, to see Michael Thomas win the league for Arsenal in 1989.”

Mr Coleman worked tirelessly behind the scenes to help bring about 2012’s golden summer of sport, right from the early days of the bid.

He said: “I’m very pleased to get the honour. I have been at it since we were first putting the bid together in 2001 and it’s nice to have been there all the way through, and for it to go as well as it did.

“One of the things that’s quite distinctive about the London Games that helped make it a success is that there were a lot of people who saw it almost all the way through, although I’m one of the longest serving. There was a lot of upheaval in previous Olympics, but we had a good team who stayed together.”

Speaking about his wide-ranging role within that team, he said: “I was the main person advising and acting for the Mayor of London. There were a lot of decisions to be taken along the way, especially when building the stadium and facilities. It was a hectic time. As we got closer, it became much more about detailed operational planning.

“The Games were planned very carefully and rigorously and that showed.”

Mr Coleman was joined on the New Year Honours list by Ruth Mackenzie, of N1, who was given a CBE for her role as director of the Cultural Olympiad arts festival.

Catherine Ugwu, of Holloway, was made an MBE for services to the Games as executive producer of the opening and closing ceremonies.


Latest News Stories

Yesterday, 17:33
Police believe these two men could help with investigations

Police have released images of two men they would like to speak to as part of an investigation into a sexual assault in Old Street.

Yesterday, 17:04
The group left the train at Highbury and Islington.

A “good Samaritan” was left needing hospital treatment after he was attacked while trying to stop a woman from being sexually assaulted on

Yesterday, 14:30
Sarah Dunant (L), artist and refugee Neda with her artwork, and actress Juliet Stevenson (R)

The Islington Centre for Refugees and Migrants is urgently appealing for more donations in the run-up to Christmas in order to stay open for an extra day each week.

Yesterday, 11:30
Ligia Stan and Petre Craciun with the Hummingbird

With rising transport costs, increasing numbers of people are choosing to cycle to work these days. But many are still put off by the risk of having their bike stolen, as well as the thought of lugging it on public transport for part of the journey.

Yesterday, 09:30
The man police want to identify for attempted arson at Finsbury Park Mosque

This is the man police want to identify after an attempted arson at Finsbury Park Mosque on Friday.

Yesterday, 07:00
Cllr Richard Watts

The leader of Islington Council wants “lively discussion” at a Question Time-style public meeting tomorrow.

Sunday, November 29, 2015
Police want to talk to this man over an attempted arson at Finsbury Park Mosque

Police are hunting a moped rider suspected of trying to set Finsbury Park Mosque on fire in what is being treated as a “hate crime”.

Saturday, November 28, 2015
Fergus conducting the English National Opera. Picture: Tom Bowles/English National Opera

Anyone can enjoy opera. Shrewsbury Town FC is proof of that.

Most read news


Nike Trainers

Nike’s motto is ‘to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.’ With this in mind it’s no surprise why Nike is the preferred training gear for most A-list athletes. Get an extra boost in your run or height in your jump with £500 to spend on Nike trainers.

MAC Makeup

MAC are renowned for their flawless, fabulous make up that is used worldwide by the stars. You too can have the chance to have the perfect makeup to suit your needs with £1,000 to spend on all the glam goodies you like!

Digital Edition

Read the Islington Gazette e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24

Local business directory

Our trusted business finder