The incredible atmosphere from live race commentary

The atmosphere of canoe slalom comes alive through excellent live race commentary.

Your live race commentators for London2012 at Lee Valley are Andy Maddock and Kev McHugh. They did an exceptional job commentating together with Richard Lee at the test event last year, and then at Great Britain team selection at Lee Valley in April. They provided great commentary for the first World Cup race at the Cardiff slalom course last month where David Florence and Richard Hounslow secured a win in the C2, and David in C1. The commentary makes such an incredible difference to the excitment and feeling at these competitions.

Tim Baillie and Etienne Stoot, GB C2 on Lee Valley at April selection (photo courtesy of Michael Barnett)

Andy and Kev have years of experience in the sport, both being part of the Team GB Sydney 2000 canoe slalom as specialist technical coaches. Andy is the Canoe Slalom Program Manager as part of GB Canoeing and was the Technical Advisor for the design of the Lee Valley course. He was Head Coach to GB Junior & U23 Canoe Slalom and has just recently returned from the Junior & U23 World’s in Wausau. Both Andy and Kev were top Prem paddlers in the 90’s.

The commentators will have several pieces of technology at their disposal to provide you the best live race commentary. First they have a good view of much of the course including the finish, supplemented by Technical Video Service camera feeds from along the course, so they can watch the paddlers down. Their computer screens will show the running time of each paddler and whether they have incurred any penalties. They will also see a split time on the course to know whether the paddler on the course is up on the paddler with the leading time. Kev and Andy know these Olympic paddlers really well so will be able to get out on the course side to talk to paddlers at the finish of their runs to capture the emotion and insights from the paddlers as well as from coaches and managers, at the appropriate times if they are willing. You should expect them to help explain the basics of the sport, terminology and the names of the features on the course. Find out what the names Big Ben and Ben Nevis represent. They will provide you background into the athletes on the course and those still waiting to start as well as describe the technical performance of each paddler as they battle this spectacular whitewater. Each paddler starts at 2 minutes and 30 second intervals and average run times of the course could be as quick as 90 seconds. All this will wrap up to provide a tremendous atmosphere to the 12,000 spectators filling the stands on each of the 5 days of competition.

Richard Hounslow in the air on Lee Valley (photo courtesy of Michael Barnett)

I have some personal experience in this respect, as I have been fortunate to commentate on several international canoe slalom races including the ’95 World’s in Nottingham together with US co-commentators Kent Ford and Lamar Sims. The tension is beyond words. It was thrilling to watch Lyn Simpson win a World Championship title in K1W and see her on the podium with the National Anthem and Union Flag being raised. It will be emotional to see the Olympic medals awarded on July 31st, August 1st and 2nd. I can’t wait! There will be many Olympians also providing commentary to their national TV stations, including British Olympic K1W medallist Helen Reeves for the BBC and David Ford from Canada for CTV. Good luck to Kev and Andy. Listen out for them and keeping watching the scoreboards as they could change with each competitor. It will be incredibly tense with medals decided by the final run of the last competitor!

In tomorrow’s post we will explore the role of the coach. You are welcome to comment here or @gregiej on Twitter

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