This year, Ireland’s interest in gymnastics at the Summer Olympics was much higher than normal. For the first time since 1996, we had a gymnast qualified to compete at the Olympic Games. With his background story, Kieran Behan captured the nation’s hearts, so support for the 23 year old was high. For the first time, RTE provided in studio analysis for the new gymnastics fans with FIG International Judge Mairead Kavanagh, she explained scoring system and the score Kieran was looking to acheive etc. For some time now, Jerry Kelly has been providing commentary for Olympic Gymnastics on behalf of RTE Sport. He was also joined by FIG International Judge Colm Kelly to provide analysis and commentary from London, which was Jerry’s seventh Olympics. Coverage on RTE this year was excellent, the gymnastics panel put together were fantastic.
Sports Jobs.ie interviewed Jerry Kelly on his position as a Sports Commentator. It’s a great read. We learn how Jerry became involved in commentating, his advice to those looking to get into sports commentary and much more.
How do you feel this Olympics compared to previous Games? The standard, the atmosphere and all round organisation of the Games?
This Olympics was excellent in every capacity and in every detail. The energy and excitement around London was incredible. The North Greenwich Arena where the gymnastics took place was a wonderful place for this competition. Within the venue there was a very partisan atmosphere. Of course the local crowd would get behind their own gymnasts, which was the case in previous Olympics, but there was a great reception for every athlete no matter where they were from. The British people love their sport and this really came across. Kieran Behan got a great reception. Many would have been familiar with his story and really got behind him. The BBC commentators who were sitting in front of me were willing him on.
What skills do you believe are needed to be a successful commentator?
You have to have the voice that is acceptable to the audience, have an ability to describe something and to bring a level of flow to what is going on at the time. A good commentator knows when to speak and when not to and to leave it to the pictures to paint the story.
You need to be prepared to put in a lot of time to research. Preparation is vital. It takes a while to get your eye trained to be able to identify what you’re looking for.