BBC rowing: Rolling with the punches

BBC sports producer Emma Cook is a vital cog in the 19-strong broadcast crew at Eton Dorney this week. The 30-year-old looks after the TV and radio presenters, including Sir Steve Redgrave and John Inverdale.

“Briefing the commentators and presenters and liaising with our directors in East London is a big part of my job,” she explained after the racing finished, in between checking her phone to ensure that her charges have met their homeward bound bus.

“I’m always the first to arrive on site and the last to leave and no one makes you a cup of tea so it’s a bit like being a mother!”

The former BBC Wales presenter added, “You have to roll with the punches.” Anything can happen every day – and usually does.

“This morning Steve and John missed breakfast so I found them some cold bacon sandwiches. Garry’s (Herbert) already lost his voice and it’s only day 2 so I got him something to gargle with!”

On Wednesday Sir Matthew Pinsent decided to climb up the camera wire to see the view, Cook said. “So of course I was the very nervous TV producer standing at the bottom, watching the four-time Olympic gold medallist go up to the top. I could see my career flash before me!”
But last week delivered the biggest punch of all. Travelling to Varese to shoot all the Olympic footage of the GB rowers, the camera bags went missing in transit. Their one chance to film the rowers was in jeopardy.

“It was a feeling of absolute doom… In the end we just had to hire the kit.”

Instead of the planned three-day shoot, they were forced to do 20 interviews in an hour and five minutes. “That’s where John’s brilliant and luckily the GB Rowing Team accommodated us.”
Despite the punches, Cook’s passion for the sport is obvious. Since watching the 1992 Games on the TV she has been a dedicated Olympics and rowing fan. 
 “It’s a really special sport and that’s what I’m trying to convey… I don’t think people realise the sacrifices involved in a six and a half minute race. Hopefully lots of people will watch rowing delivering lots of medals later in the week.”

Did you know? For the first time BBC rowing coverage includes full racing available on the Red Button

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