Commentary duo survivor expects grief to hit soon
Phil Liggett doubts the grief has truly hit him yet as he deals with the shock death of his cycling commentary sidekick Paul Sherwen.
Liggett is having his annual trip to Adelaide to call the Tour Down Under for TV and now his co-commentator will be Australian cycling great Robbie McEwen.
Adelaide is Liggett’s first public appearance since Sherwen died early last month at his Uganda home, aged 62.
The duo known in cycling simply as “Phil and Paul”, had called the Tour de France for 33 years, which Liggett notes is a record in TV sports commentary.
Liggett said the public reaction to Sherwen’s death had been overwhelming — he received 30,000 tweets in three days.
“Because I spoke about it almost non-stop from the moment I was told, the grief flew over my head,” he said. “I don’t think it’s hit me yet. “My reception here has been extraordinary, but the outpouring of love . . . has been incredible and it’s probably gotten me through one of the worst times of my life.”
The Tour Down Under will have several tributes to Sherwen.
“I’ve evaluated every day in my life since,” Liggett, nicknamed the Voice Of Cycling, said.
“The last thing I want to do is crack up. It’s going to be very difficult at the Tour Down Under.”
He is rapt to be working with McEwen, but wonders how McEwen will react when the veteran caller uses the signal he perfected with Sherwen so they would not talk over each other.
“I’m just a little bit afraid I might grab his knee . . . I will let you know (the reaction), I hope Robbie understands.”
Liggett said it was “only a matter of time” before he called McEwen Paul. “It’s no good, it will slip,” he said. “I think that’s a sign of friendship.”
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