GABBY IN THE SPORT- LIGHT

Charis­matic sports com­men­ta­tor and former gym­nast Gabby Lo­gan talks to Sanchia Gorner about the Olympics, Live TV, mo­men­tous matches... and her own spring­board to success

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Celebrity Interview -

“Sport has al­ways been in my life,” says Gabby Lo­gan, former Welsh In­ter­na­tional Gym­nast and daugh­ter of renowned foot­baller and man­ager Terry Yo­rath. “I’ve al­ways been in­volved in it and I come from a very sporty fam­ily with lots of sport­ing in­flu­ences around me. I never had a ‘ eureka’ moment when I thought ‘ now I’m in­ter­ested in sport’, it’s just al­ways been there.”

With her mul­ti­tude of sport­ing as­so­ci­a­tions, it is hardly sur­pris­ing that Gabby was able to trans­form her life­long pas­sion into be­com­ing a TV sports com­men­ta­tor – but, she says, the tran­si­tion was ac­tu­ally some­what ac­ci­den­tal.

“I knew I wanted to work in broad­cast­ing but, even though I had a sport­ing back­ground, it wasn’t sports broad­cast­ing in par­tic­u­lar that in­ter­ested me – I really fell into that by ac­ci­dent,” says Gabby. “Af­ter grad­u­at­ing

“BE­ING A SPORTS BROAD­CASTER IS FAS­CI­NAT­ING – YOU START OFF AT THE BE­GIN­NING OF A SHOW NOT KNOW­ING WHAT’S GO­ING TO

HAP­PEN, WHAT YOU’RE GO­ING TO BE TALK­ING ABOUT OR HOW IT’S ALL GO­ING TO DE­VELOP.”

from univer­sity I worked at the lo­cal ra­dio sta­tion pre­sent­ing the Break­fast Show. I was al­ways hang­ing around with the sports team be­cause that was my pas­sion and one day the head of the sta­tion sug­gested I started do­ing some of the sports in­ter­views on Satur­days – a bit like a Satur­day job. Then Sky Sports ap­proached me and asked me to come and do a screen test for them. So it all hap­pened by ac­ci­dent really.

“Be­ing a sports broad­caster is fas­ci­nat­ing,” she con­tin­ues. “It’s live TV and truly un­pre­dictable. You start off at the be­gin­ning of a show not know­ing what’s go­ing to hap­pen, what you’re go­ing to be talk­ing about or how it’s all go­ing to de­velop. There’s very lit­tle that is fore­see­able and it’s that el­e­ment of not know­ing what’s go­ing to hap­pen over the fol­low­ing three hours that I love. The sto­ries that sport can present to you are fan­tas­tic too as they are com­pletely un­scripted. You lit­er­ally can’t write a script when it comes to sport.”

Dur­ing her suc­cess­ful sports broad­cast­ing ca­reer, which has spanned al­most two decades, Gabby has wit­nessed some of the most mo­men­tous sport­ing events in his­tory.

“I’ve en­joyed all the sport­ing events I’ve been in­volved in,” she says. “I think when you’ve had a 16/ 17- year ca­reer across live sport and other shows there are so many dif­fer­ent highs for so many dif­fer­ent rea­sons. The Rugby World Cup Fi­nal in 2003 was really fan­tas­tic. I also en­joyed the Foot­ball World Cup in 2006, and The Cham­pi­ons League Fi­nal in 2005 was amaz­ing. But, of course, The Olympics really stand out too...”

THE GAMES

“Last year’s Olympics was the

sec­ond one I’ve worked on,” says Gabby. “Bei­jing was really great and Lon­don 2012 was spec­tac­u­lar.

“The Olympics are im­por­tant be­cause we need to keep push­ing our­selves as hu­man be­ings and sport is all about that – it’s about see­ing how far you can go.

“Many Olympic com­peti­tors do it purely for the glory, so many of them never turn pro­fes­sional or have any kind of in­come from what they do – which is in great con­trast from the very wealthy world of other sports, such as foot­ball.

“The Olympics are a great ex­am­ple of team mo­rale and they high­light that there are many ways to en­joy sport and there are many dif­fer­ent ways to par­tic­i­pate and to com­pete with­out the end prod­uct be­ing a life of riches.

“Ev­ery four years th­ese sports­peo­ple get the chance to per­form on the big­gest of stages and that’s one of the great­est joys of the Olympics. I think it’s only right that they get the sup­port and the en­cour­age­ment that they de­serve be­cause they are an ex­am­ple of fit­ness – and they are an ex­am­ple of what you can do if you put your mind to it.

“There are al­ways so many young peo­ple who are im­pressed by the role models they find at the Olympics, and I think last year’s Lon­don Games was bril­liant for that.

“In fact, I think sport plays such a huge role in help­ing kids in terms of self- es­teem. For me, grow­ing up, it was all about dis­ci­pline – I had to do my home­work, I had to do my train­ing, I had to do all the other things that went with be­ing a gym­nast, like liv­ing

“LON­DON2012 GAVE US A HUGE BOOST TO OUR SELF- ES­TEEM AND, FOR ME, THE HIGH­LIGHT WA SOUR IN­CREASED BE­LIEF IN OUR­SELVES AS A NA­TION.”

a healthy life­style. There are so many ben­e­fits that trickle down from top elite Olympic sports and I think it’s im­por­tant that they are there as a bench­mark.

“I felt very proud to be part of Lon­don 2012,” con­tin­ues Gabby. “It’s im­pos­si­ble to bring out one spe­cific moment really. I en­joyed ev­ery­thing that I saw – I en­joyed the Bri­tish per­for­mances and I en­joyed watch­ing the top in­ter­na­tional sports­peo­ple.

“How­ever, I think the over­all high­light for me was see­ing the way the coun­try em­braced it and see­ing how bril­liant the vol­un­teers were – they helped the rest of the world have such a great time in our Cap­i­tal City too. Lon­don 2012 gave us a huge boost to our self- es­teem and, for me, the high­light was our in­creased be­lief in our­selves as a na­tion.”

CHAL­LENGE CHAM­PION

As well as pre­sent­ing a myr­iad of sport­ing pro­grammes, Gabby is al­ways happy to try some­thing new. She’s made ap­pear­ances on many shows, in­clud­ing The Vault, The Paul O’Grady Show, Never Mind the Buz­zcocks and They Think It’s All Over. And she’s even waltzed onto our screens in Strictly Come Danc­ing...

“I de­cided to take part in Strictly Come Danc­ing partly be­cause of the sport as­pect of it but also be­cause I would be learn­ing a new skill,” says Gabby. “Plus I’d be com­pet­ing on a show where you have the adrenalin rush of com­pe­ti­tion again, which I miss from be­ing a gym­nast.

“I thor­oughly en­joyed it. Danc­ing gives you a beau­ti­ful feel­ing of free­dom and ex­pres­sion and it was a joy to learn some­thing new and work in an en­vi­ron­ment where peo­ple are so ex­pert at what they do. It’s al­ways won­der­ful when you can learn some­thing from peo­ple who are world cham­pi­ons.”

Al­ways happy to em­brace new op­por­tu­ni­ties, Gabby once again rose to the chal­lenge when she ap­peared as a ‘ Celebrity Funny Woman’ for Ac­tionAid in 2009. Along with other celebri­ties, in­clud­ing Janet El­lis, Lynne Franks and Jeni Bar­nett, Gabby took to the stage for a night of com­edy to help raise funds.

“I love Stand Up, I love com­edy and it’s lovely when peo­ple laugh with you,” she says. “As part of be­ing a ‘ Celebrity Funny Woman’ for Ac­tionAid I had to try and make the whole room laugh, which was a really big chal­lenge. It was one of those sit­u­a­tions where you put your­self in a po­si­tion of be­ing a bit un­com­fort­able and out of your com­fort zone but I really en­joyed it – I en­joyed the art of writ­ing the ma­te­rial al­most as much as de­liv­er­ing it so it was a fab­u­lous ex­pe­ri­ence.

“And it was great to be able to sup­port such a wor­thy char­ity too,” says Gabby, who still clearly re­mem­bers a char­i­ta­ble Christ­mas present from her mum when she was grow­ing up.

“When I was a lit­tle girl, ev­ery Christ­mas – as well as in­di­vid­ual presents – my mum would give my sib­lings and me a col­lec­tive present to share,” she says. “One year, when I was about 12, we all came to break­fast and on the ta­ble was an en­ve­lope. Mum said this is your group present and I want you all to take part in it. On open­ing it we saw that she’d spon­sored a lit­tle boy in Sierra Leone.

“As kids it was a really great thing for us to have this con­nec­tion with some­body of a sim­i­lar age who was hav­ing a to­tally dif­fer­ent life to us. He would send let­ters to us and we’d send let­ters back and I’ll al­ways re­mem­ber that ex­pe­ri­ence.”

IN SHAPE

In ad­di­tion to be­ing a busy pre­sen­ter and em­brac­ing new chal­lenges, Gabby says keep­ing fit also plays a large part in her life and she tries to do what she can – when­ever she can – in or­der to help keep her­self healthy...

“Ex­er­cise and sport are im­por­tant be­cause with­out them we wouldn’t be very healthy,” she says. “And I try to do what I can, when I can in, or­der to keep fit. As I’ve been par­tic­i­pat­ing in sport since I was a small child my lev­els of fit­ness are rea­son­ably high so, for me, it’s about keep­ing it topped up. I try to go for a three- mile run a few times a week – and some­times, when I’ve got more time, I’ll train harder. It’s about balancing it with my life­style really. For in­stance, I’ve got a set of body con­di­tion­ing ex­er­cises that take about half an hour to do, so, if I’m away from home for a few days, I’ll do them in my ho­tel room.

“I don’t be­lieve in faddy di­ets and I don’t be­lieve in cut­ting any­thing out of the diet un­less it’s go­ing to af­fect you ad­versely,” she con­tin­ues. “I be­lieve it’s about bal­ance with ev­ery­thing – try­ing to get enough sleep, try­ing to get enough good food, try­ing to get enough ex­er­cise. Not do­ing things to ex­cess is also im­por­tant – and not push­ing your body into a di­rec­tion where it’s go­ing to get un­healthy is vi­tal too. If you eat too much, smoke and don’t do any ex­er­cise it’s un­likely your health is go­ing to be as good as it could be.”

Gabby says you don’t need to be a bud­ding pro­fes­sional sportsper­son or a fu­ture Olympian hope­ful in or­der to en­joy ex­er­cise and sport, but if you do have big sport­ing am­bi­tions, then hard work and de­ter­mi­na­tion are the key...

“There’s no such thing as a short­cut to success,” she says. “I think if you love what you do in any walk of life it’s al­ways go­ing to feel a lot eas­ier but success doesn’t hap­pen from just turn­ing up and do­ing it – ul­ti­mately time and de­ter­mi­na­tion are needed.

“There are a lot of peo­ple who don’t make it to the top of their game, who don’t get Olympic Gold Medals, but along the way they take a lot out of the sport that they do and they take a lot out of the or­gan­i­sa­tion that it brings to their lives. Tak­ing ex­er­cise or par­tic­i­pat­ing in a sport is never go­ing to be a waste of time – but, of course, if you want to get to the very top you’ve got to put in the hours and ded­i­ca­tion.”

Gabby Lo­gan sup­ports Child Spon­sor­ship with Ac­tionAid. Find out more about how you could trans­form a child’s life at www. ac­tionaid.org.uk/child

PIC­TURE: BILL WA­TERS

PIC­TURE: TONY LARKIN/ REX FEATURES

PIC­TURE: IMMO KLINK/ AC­TIONAID

You can’t buy much in the UKwith 50p – but it costs just 50p each day to spon­sor a child with Ac­tionAid.

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