The twisting road to glory
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.