A brilliant opportunity for budding commentators at England Athletics' first Announcer course

Earlier this year, England Athletics organised a course hosted by Stuart Storey for people who were interested in learning or improving their commentating skills.

The Announcers’ course provided a brilliant opportunity for budding commentators to learn from one of the great voices of athletics commentary.

Stuart recently retired from commentating after 44 years of covering world class athletics events, including nine Olympic Games between 1976 and 2008. Stuart is by background an educator and proved to be a first-rate tutor. He had done a great deal of preparation and enabled the participants to ‘learn the ropes’ with and alongside him. Attendee Matt Seddon said, "While at first I felt nervous to be in such company I was quickly made to feel comfortable almost right away by his relaxed and calm demeanour. Throughout the course it felt as if he was my very own personal mentor. Talking and teaching us through all things announcing and commentating, I would play the role of a sponge and try to soak every last bit of information or guidance he provided."

After a day of learning in the classroom, and informal dinner and drinks together, the workshop was moved to the stadium on the Sunday where all the would-be announcers had the chance to commentate during the England Athletics Age Group indoor Combined Events championships. One of the delegates, Alan Vincent told us, "I think he gave us all the enthusiasm to build on this basic learning platform and to seek further opportunities to develop the skills necessary to the announcer who is going to add something to the event covered."

As well as covering the principles and techniques of announcing in great detail, the course looked at a number of topics including pre-meeting preparation required including administration, personnel appointments, and a thorough look at the stadium and its facilities including the sound system and the announcers' area. Indeed, delegate Mike Harris noted, "It made me realise that preparation is key - from the facilities an announcer will be using to the athletes being announced. Stuart portrayed brilliantly what to say, how to say it, and know when not to say anything!"

The course also covered the priorities on the day of the meeting and during the meeting itself, plus the way in which to set up the team which will cover the meeting from the announcers' area and on the track. Stan Madiri was also on the course; "The over-riding theme for me is the invaluable role announcing plays in increasing spectator experience in the stadium not only with their own athletes but with the whole athletic theatre." Fellow delegate Montell Douglas added, "It was a fantastic insight into the behind-the-scenes action of the world I love. As an athlete it was such an interesting experience that I thoroughly enjoyed."

Nick Bishop already enjoys doing some announcing and he is also conversant at public speaking. "This is a subtly different skill set and one that needs prep and practice!" He reported that he thoroughly enjoyed the weekend; "Stuart was engaging and - given his knowledge and experience - a fabulous coach / mentor!"

Matt summarised, "It was great to also hang out with Stuart away from the workshop, over dinner and drinks; getting to know the real Stuart Storey on more of a personal level was something I will cherish!" He continued, "I will take what I have learnt forward and hopefully put it into action at various stadiums across the country this summer."

We hope that the participants have a chance to commentate at various levels of competitions and England Athletics hope to continue with the programme and will keep you posted via the website.

Photo by Dave Griffiths