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Freshwater honours for Nugget May

29 January 2017

AOC:Norman May’s famous gold medal call from the 1980 Moscow Olympics echoed around Sydney’s Freshwater Beach today as the Surf Lifesaving community honoured one of its greatest members.

Known fondly as “Nugget” by his army of friends and fans, the famous ABC broadcaster’s ashes were scattered in the surf at Freshwater in a very moving ceremony watched by surf lifesavers from throughout NSW.

The President of the Australian Olympic Committee, John Coates, a close friend, attended the ceremony along with officials of Surf Lifesaving Australia.

Also attending was Mark Tonelli, a member of the Australian 4 x 100m medley relay team which featured in Norman’s famous “gold, gold to Australia, gold” call in 1980 which was played over the sound system at the beach.

On the sand today were some of May’s team mates from his days in the surf. Representatives of the different clubs formed a guard of honour as May’s ashes were carried to a surfboat.

They were then rowed out and scattered beyond the break, with the oars of the two surfboats raised in tribute to their colleague.

Nugget joined the Freshwater Surf Lifesaving Club in 1949 and won three Australian R & R Championships and represented NSW at the Australian Championships.

Norman, who passed away aged 88 in September last year, also owed his big break into broadcasting to surf lifesaving. He started his illustrious career in radio and television after a chance meeting with ABC Sports Manager, Dick Healey, on a bus to Manly. Healey invited him to commentate on the first telecast of a surf lifesaving competition at Dee Why Beach on the 9th of February 1957. “That changed my life that day” he said.

Nugget was a natural behind the microphone. In 1964 he called his first Olympics and he dominated sports broadcasting calling the Olympics from 1964 to 2004 and covering the Commonwealth Games 11 times from 1962 to 2002.

In all he called over 40 different sports for the ABC including test cricket, rugby tests, athletics and swimming but always retained his love of the surf and Surf Lifesaving.

Mike Tancred

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