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