What does a day as a professional sports commentator look like? Rochelle Gilmore, Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling Team owner and former professional cyclist, runs through her fast-paced day commentating the women’s race at the recent UCI Cycling World Championship in Bergen.
Warning: it’s hectic!
Race day: The UCI Cycling World Championship Women’s Race
6am: Phone alarm goes off! Get up (not easy… tired, stiff muscles, allergies and very sore sinuses), take Nazonex, antihistamine, half a bottle of water.
Get dressed in bike kit, walk to the lift – ride to floor 5. The make-up room. Sit down, close eyes and doze while my make-up is done. No hair yet as I’m about to grab my bike and helmet.
7am: Meet photographer at the Bergen finish line. Pose for photos. Then there’s a video intro to record and I’m off to do a lap of the World Champs course.
I ride a slow lap, analysing the course closely, specifically taking notes of the corners at speed, gears on rises and climbs, easiest side of the road to ride, sections protected from wind, road surfaces, and landmarks to easily identify riding into the final 3km.
After that, it’s finish line filming, fake sprints, superwomen stunts and a World Championships course report to camera.
My notes on the course
8am: Quick shower, hair and make-up. Then I do a news report and preview of the race.
Time to get back into bed and study my notes on the women’s road race while watching the men’s junior race on TV. Well, I don’t study much except calling a few of my athletes and chatting through their race plans, feelings, emotions etc, giving them confidence and excitement.
Quick chat with Sarah Connolly of Pro Women’s Cycling who can talk 2hrs straight with me about women’s cycling. I call her before all important commentary jobs – she gets me excited!
Get up, check my hair and make-up, get dressed in my white Armani Suit and literally run in my heels over to the commentary box which is 100 metres from our hotel. I’m here early, but that’s the rule. I sit and chat with co-presenters Simon (Brotherton) and Chris (Boardman) for a bit, everyone checking last minute notes.
Now, sound check time – Graeme the sound man comes to check all the levels are right for everyone and everything. Lots of fiddling goes on, mic adjustments. I turn down most of my nobs – sounds outside, sounds from the studio, sounds from race cars, commissaries etc. Then we shuffle our snacks around into position (for easy access) and get ready for a 4-5hr shift.
The Women’s Road Race starts. My heart starts racing.
Sit… speak… speak… speak, occasionally stand and put my nose to the screen to pick a rider. Sit and eat a Bounty, speak again and again and again… Quick trip to the loo and make an urgent phone call then straight back into the commentary box.
More speaking, conversation, guesses, questions about what’s going to happen.
Called out of the box to open the BBC One show – in vision now, opening the show. Bright lights, big cameras, lots going on, sound man puts his arm up my skirt to place the mic box on the inside back of my skirt’s belt. Standard.
Look pretty, stand still, it’s live… Answer completely random questions on men’s cycling, then start talking about what we can expect from today’s women’s race. More cycling talk…
Race back to the box where Simon has been left alone to commentate – must stop at the loo… Still beat Chris back to the box! Back into the commentary of the Women’s World Championship race.
Now it’s getting serious in the women’s race. Attack after attack by King, Barnes, Neylan etc. Damn, the Dutch have 3 in the break… Chantal Blaak is off the front… Blaak will win – no one behind can drop the other two strong Dutch riders in the chase… Oh, wait, wait, wait! Blaak has won but the bunch is catching the chasers… A big bunch kick goes to Katrin Garfoot for 2nd with Amalie Dideriksen 3rd. WOW what a race! So excited at this point, super-exciting finish! NOT the race we expected. The three on the podium deserve to be there, we just wouldn’t have called it!
WOW what a race. I’m happy!
Now, I race back to the studio to make post-race comments and reflect on the race. The Dutch are being interviewed to the right with NL TV. Lizzie Deignan, Hannah Barnes and Dani King are in the middle with the BBC. All smiles after racing very aggressively!
Time for presenter Jill Douglas, Chris and I to take position – 30 minutes on air, in vision – reflecting on the women’s race. How did the Brits do? What does the future hold for them? etc. We had to express how strong the Dutch were with their strength in depth.
I’m then rushed back to the commentary box where we do the post-radio for the BBC.
At this time of the week I am completely dead, while all my athletes are asking me to come out and celebrate the season with them. However, I’m more concerned about getting a good night’s sleep so I can do a good job on the men’s race tomorrow, so I send my assistant out to buy me dinner while I shower and get into bed. I start reading notes and chatting with Sarah Connolly, getting into the mood of men’s racing! I have a lot to study.
My assistant arrives with dinner and reminds me that I need to meet Audrey Cordon Ragot, one of my Wiggle High5 riders, tonight to film her at 11pm. I can’t manage it – I am exhausted – so I send my lovely assistant to do it and she does a wonderful job! Very impressed.
My books are closed by midnight and I’m winding down with a movie – some new series with Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon.
Asleep by 1am…..
Back up to do it all again in the morning for the Men’s World Championship Race …
You can follow Rochelle via her social media accounts: www.twitter.com/rochellegilmore and www.instagram.com/rochellegilmore and by visiting her website: www.rochellegilmore.com. For more info on the Wiggle High5 team, visit www.wigglehighfive.com