Returning hero to have street named in his honour
He's got three world under-23 titles, two world elite rowing crowns and an Olympic gold medal and now Picton and Marlborough's most famous sporting son has a street named after him.
Joseph Sullivan Dr is a small road which runs adjacent to Queen Charlotte College, travelling from Waikawa Rd to the new Endeavour Park sports complex being built.
The sign will be installed tomorrow.
Mayor Alistair Sowman announced the big surprise during yesterday's formal function at Queen Charlotte College celebrating Sullivan's Olympic triumph.
The announcement proved extremely popular with the crowd of more than 120 invited guests. Sullivan's sponsor since 2005 Graeme Rose, of Window Treatments in Christchurch, Kaikoura MP Colin King, Picton Rowing Club president Jim Anderson and Sullivan's first coach at Queen Charlotte College Dave Bugler all spoke glowingly of the gold medallist's achievements and how they would inspire young people throughout the province to try to emulate his deeds.
Mr Sowman said Sullivan was Marlborough's greatest sportsman and all the speakers told of how inspiring his story of success was, against the odds from a small town such as Picton.
Sullivan said he had been overwhelmed by the public reception when he arrived on the foreshore earlier sitting on the bow of an old quadruple scull skiff he cut his rowing teeth on in the early 2000s.
Speaking from a balcony of the Yachtfinders-Global offices on the waterfront, Sullivan said "I really thank those people who stood by me. I really appreciate you all being here [to welcome me].
"I thank Dave Bugler [his first coach], too, for telling me I was too bloody small. I think that set me up for being quite stubborn and the more people who said I couldn't do it the more I wanted to do better."
The joy he had provided to so many people and the massive support he had had since winning his gold medal meant he almost felt obliged to carry on and have another crack at the Rio Olympics in four years, he said.
However, now was not the time to make any decisions in that regard, he said.
He plans to stay out of the rowing skiff until early in the new year and keep fit by cross-training in a kayak and cycling.
Resplendent in his New Zealand blazer and jeans, bare feet and his prized gold medal around his neck, Sullivan proved a huge hit with the hundreds who came out to celebrate his win and he obliged, staying for well over an hour after his welcome to sign autographs, talk to his fans and pose for photos.
The public adulation for the normally shy, unassuming star continues today when he visits schools in Picton to share in his success.
- The Marlborough Express