“EVERY MINUTE IS INTERESTING IN THIS SPORT”
Will McCloy knew nothing about tri before he got the Super League reporter gig. Now, it’s his dream job. Here he tells us why…
I’d never watched a triathlon before 2017 and only vaguely knew what sports were in it. I was reporting on rugby league, AFL and cricket here in Australia when Gravity Media won the rights to produce the first Super League Triathlon at Hamilton Island and I was put forward as a potential host. I told them I could commentate – even though I’d never called anything before! But I studied everything to the nth degree and haven’t missed a Super League event since. Now I’d be more likely to watch a triathlon than a rugby league grand final. It’s an amazing sport filled with incredible humans with surprisingly little ego.
I think being part of Super League at its inception meant I’ve loved it more than any other job I’ve ever done. It was like a start-up. Everyone was pitching in to come up with new ideas on the fly to try and make it better. Underlying everything was not ‘how do we make money and sell it?’ but the idea of doing something to make it better for the athletes and viewers.
The Arena Games were born out of Covid. I was stuck at the other end of the earth, sitting in my kitchen at 2am trying to commentate by whispering into the microphone so as not to wake the kids. During one race, I noticed my computer had 10% battery, so I was trying to commentate while carrying my laptop around the house hunting for a charging cable. Even when Super League started back up, I was still locked down in Australia so would open up with: ‘Hello and welcome to wherever’. But it was just me and [co-founder Chris McCormack] Macca in some studio near Sydney eating lollies at 3:30am.
My commentary style is helped by the dynamic pictures Super League provides. It’s about shortening the distance between the viewer and the emotion of the athlete. The shots are close, so we see the faces, we educate viewers about the jeopardy of the moment, and make rules that make every minute interesting.
I always root for the triathletes who have grown up with the series. I feel like a distant uncle to Hayden Wilde. I’ve seen him go from this new kid who had no idea at the beginning and just grow and grow.
What I like most about triathlon is that no matter how fast you are, you’ll hurt the same at the end. I’ve also got Dunning-Kruger syndrome and think given enough time I can compete with the pros! First, I’m trying to make the Aussie age-group team for Hamburg this summer.
Unlike most Aussies, I wasn’t a swimmer kid. I grew up in the outback, about five hours inland where we had a dam full of leeches and dead sheep. I did recently go for a run with Tim Don and we did 10k in about 43mins while Tim was chatting. I couldn’t talk.
My eldest, Bella, has signed up for her first tri this year. Swimming, biking and running are the foundations for things kids do all day, so it’s just secret training!
“It was just me and Macca eating lollies at 3:30am”