Ready set GOLD

Mel McLaugh­lin’s Olympic chal­lenge

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - TV Guide - - Front Page - By HOLLY BYRNES

DIP­PING one toe into the Speedo Swim Cen­tre pool at Gold’s Gym in Bondi and Seven’s vi­va­cious sports an­chor Mel McLaugh­lin lights up “like a five-year-old”.

Short of com­pet­ing in the Rio Games her­self, the TV pre­sen­ter’s en­ergy and en­thu­si­asm for the broad­cast­ing chal­lenge ahead of her is plain to see and hard to con­tain.

With 5000 hours of Olympic com­pe­ti­tion set to air across the multi-plat­forms of Seven’s big­gest Games cov­er­age yet, McLaugh­lin and the 450-strong pro­duc­tion team charged with de­liv­er­ing all the ac­tion around the clock, know they will need to be on their game.

But for this self-con­fessed “proper nerd”, it’s as much about prepa­ra­tion as it is per­spi­ra­tion when that caul­dron is fi­nally lit this Satur­day in Brazil and her di­rec­tor calls “ac­tion”.

“The Olympics is what you get into the busi­ness for, isn’t it?” McLaugh­lin tells TV Guide. “Big, ex­cit­ing, re­ally spe­cial times like this. Sure, it’s a mas­sive chal­lenge and I’m never re­laxed about it; I never think it’s go­ing to be easy, but I love that sort of chal­lenge.”

Swot­ting up on sports which get lit­tle air­time out­side the Olympics is a joy for this stu­dent of the Games, who will lead Seven’s cov­er­age from its Syd­ney stu­dios (de­liv­er­ing the 6pm Seven News sports bul­letin each night and host­ing live ac­tion na­tion­ally from 10.30pm).

With a CV that in­cludes cov­er­ing the Sochi Win­ter Olympics and Glas­gow Com­mon­wealth Games on Ten, as well as the Lon­don Games for Fox Sports, the 36-year-old has earned the con­fi­dence of her peers.

Join­ing Seven’s im­pres­sive news and com­men­tary sta­ble, which boasts such lu­mi­nar­ies as Bruce McA­vaney, Jim Wil­son and Jo­hanna Griggs, has only acted to in­spire one of TV’s bright­est young stars.

“Bruce … is some­one you as­pire to be,” she says.

Any­one who watched as McLaugh­lin held her­self with a quiet dig­nity when cricket star Chris Gayle sparked out­rage by sex­u­al­is­ing a side­line in­ter­view with her dur­ing a live BBL match on Chan­nel 10 in Jan­uary, would recog­nise this woman is made of tough stuff.

Switch­ing sta­tions in the months af­ter that scan­dal, while also pri­vately griev­ing the death of her sis­ter, Tara last May, McLaugh­lin has en­dured both per­sonal and pro­fes­sional tests.

But her pas­sion for her work, she says, makes these Olympics a priv­i­lege, as well as a wel­come ex­cuse to party.

“It doesn’t mat­ter what I’ve done, I’m al­ways ner­vous, al­ways aware of the grav­ity of what we’re do­ing. I know how huge this is, and I never ever take it for granted.”

Hav­ing cov­ered the 2014 FIFA World Cup from Rio, McLaugh­lin pre­dicts good times ahead.

“Brazil is just so much fun. It’s a proper party and I’m look­ing for­ward to it.”

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