Editotrial: Sign for celebration

01:07, Aug 08 2012

Many thousands of words have been written about Joseph Sullivan since he and crew mate Nathan Cohen won gold at the Olympic rowing regatta on Thursday.

Finally, with that win, New Zealand had something major to celebrate at the Games. Not taking anything away from other athletes, but none of them had made it to the top of the victory dais. Sullivan and Cohen were the first to make that climb - albeit without an actual dais - and the effusive media coverage since then is deserved.

Sullivan and Cohen are both thoroughly decent, likeable young men who started as club rowers in their small home towns, came up through school, regional and national competitions and were committed and talented enough to be selected for international events. They are the sort of success story we like to celebrate.

They also remember where they are from and it seems that what has made Sullivan particularly chuffed during the past few days is the reaction from Marlborough, and especially his home town of Picton, to his performance.

The crowd at Oxleys to watch the heart-stopping 2000m double scull race will remember the night for many years, and that was followed on Friday night with live coverage by national television current affairs programmes. On top of print, online and radio coverage throughout the day, it built to exceptional coverage for the pair, and for the town. Money just can't buy that sort of exposure.

The movers and shakers in Picton, certainly at the rowing club, seem to be on-task with organising a suitable welcome home for Sullivan, and perhaps the other Marlborough-based rowers at the Games.

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The Marlborough District Council doesn't seem to be breaking its neck to get involved in the festivities but there is one thing it should be doing in conjunction with Destination Marlborough before Sullivan hits town again. It needs to act on the suggestion to erect a road sign, somewhere along the entrance into Picton, with a slogan such as "Welcome to Picton, home of Olympic rowing champion Joseph Sullivan".

Destination Marlborough needs all the help it can get marketing this region, and this is one opportunity not to be passed up. It celebrates, it reminds residents of something to be very proud of and it tells visitors that great things happen in the town.

He's home in about a week so let's get moving.

The Marlborough Express