Matt’s all fired up

For­mer sprinter Matt Shirv­ing­ton is now rac­ing to be ready as a Fox­tel broad­caster at the Lon­don Olympics, writes David Pougher

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Television -

MATT Shirv­ing­ton looks as fit as he was dur­ing his time as Aus­tralia’s lead­ing sprinter and he heads to Lon­don as part of Fox­tel’s host­ing team still think­ing like a com­peti­tor.

One of his favourite phrases dur­ing com­pe­ti­tion was ‘‘ chance favours the pre­pared man’’.

An hour in Shirv­ing­ton’s com­pany demon­strates that he’s car­ried that motto into his ca­reer as a broad­caster.

He’s in com­mand of names, times and records of an im­pres­sive num­ber of Aus­tralian and over­seas ath­letes not just in track and field, but across all sports.

And he still uses the elite ath­letes’ trick of imag­in­ing a favoured out­come be­fore an event.

‘‘ I’ve done all the prepa­ra­tion and now I’m ready to get down to work,’’ the 33- year- old says.

‘‘ I’ve en­vis­aged my ho­tel room: There’s a map of the Olympic precinct, a list of all the venues and sports, a num­ber of ath­lete pro­files, so when I walk in it will be like Mi­nor­ity Re­port – I’ll be drag­ging in in­for­ma­tion from here and there and try­ing to get across it all.

‘‘ Af­ter all, there are only 11,000 ath­letes to try to get to know.’’

Shirv­ing­ton ( pic­tured) is one of a vast team of Fox­tel com­men­ta­tors who will bring the Olympics to Aus­tralia with eight ded­i­cated Olympic chan­nels this year.

Ev­ery gold medal event will be cov­ered live across the chan­nels Lon­don 1 to Lon­don 8.

Shirv­ing­ton and Eddie Maguire will head the day­time cov­er­age, with the likes of Ray Hadley, Susie O’Neill, Lisa For­rest, Tracey Holmes and Bren­don Ju­lian spear­head­ing com­men­tary on the eight chan­nels.

Rove McManus will head a team of rov­ing re­porters bring­ing hu­mour and colour to the cov­er­age.

Shirv­ing­ton, who held the 100m na­tional sprint ti­tle from 1998 to 2002 and is the sec­ond- fastest Aussie of all time, doesn’t try to hide his ex­cite­ment about work­ing at the Games.

‘‘ I know there’ll be times when I’m track­side in the mixed zone wait­ing for Usain Bolt to run that I’ll wish that I was in that fi­nal, ab­so­lutely,’’ he says.

‘‘ But in broad­cast­ing we’ll be work­ing harder than the ath­letes. And you wouldn’t want it any other way.’’

Shirv­ing­ton and his wife lived in Lon­don for many years and he says the city will turn on a Games to re­mem­ber.

‘‘ My favourite venue is the velo­drome, which they’ve nick­named The Pringle be­cause it has a roof that looks like a Pringle chip. The track was de­signed by Aus­tralians, so hope­fully that will give us a bit of an ad­van­tage,’’ he says.

‘‘ Lord’s will host the archery com­pe­ti­tion and it’s per­fect for that. Horse Guards Parade will have the beach vol­ley­ball with thou­sands of tonnes of sand.

‘‘ There’s Wim­ble­don of course and the road race and the marathons will fin­ish down the Mall and the triathlon is in Hyde Park.’’

Shirv­ing­ton be­lieves the Brits could start the Games with a bang, al­though he hopes not.

‘‘ On day one, Han­nah Mi­ley in the 400m in­di­vid­ual med­ley is up against Steph Rice,’’ he says. ‘‘ Han­nah is ranked sec­ond at the mo­ment and she’s in the sort of shape that means a home- crowd ad­van­tage could get her over the line. They could very well get their first gold medal on day one, in the pool and against an Aus­tralian.’’

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