Tuesday, 15 December 2009

TV news coverage

Did anyone watch television last Sunday evening ... in particular the Sports Personality Of The Year on BBC 1. Here are my thoughts:

Let me begin by congratulating the BBC on a first class program.  As always it provided an excellent general review of the sporting year.

This year though I felt that something was missing.  As the program was essentially a review of the sporting year I feel that mention should have been made of a Commonwealth Championships which took place only three months ago.

The championships in question had 16 gold medals at stake which included men, women and teams.  British sports men and women won well over 50% of the medals on offer.  Yet no mention was made of their achievements either on sports programs or news reports at the time or on the Sports Personality Of The Year program.  A little unfair I believe.

What's more, these championships were not for a so-called minority sport such as darts, gymnastics or archery but for two branches of the mainstream sport of athletics known as ultra distance running and mountain/fell running.

In my event, the 24 hr running race, John Pares (Wales) claimed an individual bronze medal in the men's race. The England women's team were awarded the gold medal and the England men's team the silver medal. Sharon Gayter (England) won the women's race with Vicky Skelton (England) finishing second and the Scottish women claiming a team bronze medal to add to the team bronze medal their men had won.

Yet no mention of any of this on a national news or sports program when the event was held in September.

In May next year the 24 hr World Challenge will be held at Brive in France and many people have predicted that the UK runners have a good chance of bringing home some medals. Hopefully mention will be made on BBC news and/or sports programs of all their achievements.

As England's first finisher in the Commonwealth Championships (fifth overall) I know that ultra distance runners are just as dedicated and train equally as hard as athletes such as Jessica Ennis and Mo Farah - but without any lottery funding whatsoever.

The overall perception of ultra distance running with the public is not helped by commentators such as Brendan Foster who portray the marathon as the ultimate endurance race.  It isn't, for ultra distance runners such as myself 26 miles is just another training run - not a particularly long one either.

Hopefully things will change regarding media coverage of our events ... but I fear it will be almost as long as some of our races.

No comments: