SPORT: An Evening with Clare Balding

Clare Balding exclaimed presenting at London 2012 was the “highlight of her career” as she wowed Sports Journalism students with some remarkable sporting tales last Thursday evening.

In the lecture itself Clare’s presenting skills shone through, the packed audience in attendance was captivated as we heard all manner of sporting stories ranging from the horse racing, to that famous incident at London 2012 where Clare interviewed the excitable Bert Le Clos after his son Chad defeated Michael Phelps in the 200m butterfly.

Before the lecture took place myself and five other students got the chance to get up close and personal with Clare as she took time to answer questions from us. All matter of topics were discussed; media representation of female sport stars came up, horse racing was talked about, the topical issue of football ticket prices was raised, Usain Bolt even got a mention and finally women’s sport was another hot topic.

I asked her about the coverage of women’s sport or the lack of it, to which she replied: “It needs to go much further than it is, much further.”

Investment and information was another aspect which Clare thought was important in building upon the success of women’s sport in recent years, saying: “Investment is huge, because that investment will trickle down into facilities and good coaches. Another crucial thing is information; you need to know when events are.”

As you would expect Horse racing did come up and she provided us with a fantastic insight into what she feels about presenting the sport: “Still there is a loud voice in my brain not to be identified by this.”

London 2012 took up a large part of the lecture (after all it was her greatest achievement): “It was without doubt the highlight of my career and it won’t be topped.” Clare was there right in the centre of it – at one of the greatest sporting spectacles on earth. You could see and hear the excitement when she was talking about London 2012.

She even took us through a whistle-stop tour of her photo collection from the event: “I’m going to make you feel like you’re here, poolside, trackside, or on the edge of the dressage arena.” It was a blast looking through the photos, many of you will know she was a prominent presenter in both the Olympic Games but also the ParaOlympic Games. So there were snaps with Mark Foster, Ellie Simmonds, the opening ceremony and much more. For me it brought back all those great memories from watching it at home.

The sporting stories were one thing, the advice was another. And to the many aspiring Sport Journalists students in the room I hoped they lapped it up, because I certainly did. I suppose you can only learn from the best and Clare is certainly one of the best in her profession and when she gives advice you simply listen, nothing else.

The most important thing to Clare was passion for what you do, and that doesn’t necessarily apply to just your job but in all walks of life, she said: “I think passion is really important as well. You have to care, you have got to love it and want to go to the end of the earth to see it, cover it and talk to other people about it, sharing that passion.” She also spoke about taking risks: “look for something different, be inventive – take a few risks along the way, be prepared to look a fool.”

Overall it was a great evening; we had Jim White from Sky Sports last year, Clare Balding this year, who’s going to be next? Whoever it is they are going to find it tough to top Clare!

By Michael Stokoe

The Verse Staff

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