The twist­ing road to glory

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Guide - ERIN McWHIRTER

THERE is no dis­put­ing that pro­fes­sional sports­peo­ple feel ex­treme pres­sure to per­form.

It’s also ap­par­ent their true feel­ings and emo­tions are of­ten ex­pressed be­hind closed doors, re­vealed only to im­me­di­ate fam­ily or friends.

Some of Aus­tralia’s most loved and well-known ath­letes, how­ever, give rare in­sight into their lives in Chan­nel 7’s Road To Bei­jing.

For the show’s re­porter Rachel Friend, the show of­fers a priv­i­leged be­hind-the-scenes glimpse into the chal­lenges th­ese pro­fes­sion­als face in the lead-up to the Olympic Games, start­ing on Au­gust 8.

In the first episode, Friend, the wife of Aus­tralian crick­eter Stu­art MacGill, spent a day with cham­pion swim­mer Grant Hack­ett.

Shar­ing time with the 28-yearold and his wife of one year, singer Candice Al­ley, Friend talked can­didly to the three-time Olympic gold medal­list about the ups and downs he has faced.

Hack­ett cel­e­brated one of the hap­pi­est days of his life in April last year when he mar­ried Al­ley, but the sport­ing hero’s dreams of qual­i­fy­ing for the 10km open swim have been dashed and he didn’t do too well at the world cham­pi­onships. Plus, he had to deal with pub­lic scru­tiny that he was too beefy to com­pete at the Olympics.

Friend is well-versed in play­ing the sup­port­ing wife of a sports star and she says it may en­cour­age ath­letes and their loved ones to open up to her.

Road To Bei­jing

also de­liv­ers in­for­ma­tion about the lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional stars to watch at the Olympics.

Hosted by Jo­hanna Griggs, the show vis­its China to see how Bei­jing is cop­ing in the lead-up to the big event and ques­tions whether the city is ready for the ar­rival of ath­letes and spectators.

Friend ad­mits she was no sports nut as a child, but her pas­sion was ig­nited when she started do­ing sport seg­ments for A Cur­rent Af­fair.

‘‘I did a few sports sto­ries and re­alised that they (ath­letes) have a story to tell, rather than just talk­ing about sports or the sta­tis­tics,’’ she says.

Sports pas­sion:

Rachel Friend.

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