In November 1955, he was appointed Sports Editor for the BBC's Midlands Region.

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He covered eleven Summer Olympic Games from 1960 to 2000 and six football World Cups.

Coleman presented some of the BBC's leading sporting programmes, including Grandstand and Sportsnight, and was the host of A Question of Sport for 18 years. Later that year he became the first broadcaster to receive the Olympic Order award, in recognition of his contribution to the Olympic movement.

Born in Alderley Edge, Cheshire, of Irish heritage (his immediate family hailed from County Cork), Coleman was a keen amateur runner. In 1949, Coleman won the Manchester Mile as a member of Stockport Harriers, the only non-international runner to do so.

Although he did not have an audition, the BBC asked him to cover Roger Bannister at Bradford City Police Sports.

The following year he began freelance radio work in Manchester.

In 1954 Coleman moved to Birmingham and joined the BBC as a news assistant and sports editor.

His first television appearance was on 'Sportsview, coincidentally on the day that Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile.

He competed in the English National Cross-Country Championships for Manchester Athletic Club in 1952 (116th, 3rd team) and 1953 (118). Injury eventually caused him to give up competitive running, and he later became president of the Wolverhampton & Bilston Athletics Club.

Coleman worked as a reporter for the Stockport Express, and during military service in the Royal Corps of Signals he worked for the British Army Newspaper Unit. He joined Kemsley Newspapers after demobilisation and at 22 became editor of the Cheshire County Express.