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
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.’’