Salute to rowing gold
How should Marlborough celebrate the homecoming of Olympic gold medallist Joseph Sullivan? Right now, no-one has an answer, but one thing people agree on is they have to do something.
Marlborough Mayor Alistair Sowman has asked the Picton rower for the go-ahead to celebrate his return home in a fortnight. Mr Sowman sent a message, along with his congratulations, through the Picton Rowing Club Facebook page.
"I hope we can provide an opportunity to publicly congratulate Joseph, perhaps on Picton's foreshore, in a way in which his many friends, neighbours and supporters can share in the celebration," Mr Sowman said.
Sullivan's achievement in winning a gold medal, on top of his world rowing title, made him Marlborough's highest achieving sportsman, the mayor said. That was a real cause for celebration.
"I know there is enormous pride both in Picton and in Marlborough, particularly in rowing circles, that one of our own young men has become such an outstanding sportsman on the world stage."
Picton Rowing Club captain Keiran Gaudin said the club would discuss Joseph's homecoming at a committee meeting tomorrow night. "There will be something public but what shape or form it will take, we're not sure."
Mr Gaudin was speaking to the Marlborough Express before being interviewed on TV One's Close Up, which broadcast live from the rowing club on Friday night.
The club might have a battle on its hands with the council as to who holds the celebration, Mr Gaudin said. Signs at the entrance to town saying "Welcome to Picton, home of Olympic Gold medallist Joseph Sullivan" should be considered, Mr Gaudin said. "That would be cool if we could get somebody to pay for it. Although there is no reason why the community wouldn't put some money into it."
He described his friend's Olympic achievement as unreal.
"It's something that happens once in a lifetime, so we have to make the most of it. He has put Picton on the world stage and hopefully it will inspire young kids to get involved with rowing."
Sullivan's grandfather, Michael Sullivan, said he would like to see some sort of celebration.
He suggested something more low-key, like a dinner.
Picton resident Vic Chandler, who was part of the crowd at the Close Up broadcast, said whatever the celebration was, it had to be in Picton. Mr Chandler would like to see a parade through the town or a party on the foreshore.
Sullivan's gold medal team-mate, Nathan Cohen, should be invited, he said. "Have something so the local people can come and say ‘thank you'. We are only a small country, this is a small town and they are small guys, but they have big hearts. What they have done is massive."
Queen Charlotte College principal Tom Parsons said Sullivan was a great role model who always shared his rowing triumphs with Picton students. Mr Parsons expected he would do the same after his Olympic glory.
"He always comes into the school, every time he wins a gold, and speaks to the students," he said. "He's a typical Kiwi kid, except he has a [Olympic] gold medal. He's not pretentious with any allusions of grandeur. He just happens to be the best in the world at what he does."
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The Marlborough Express