The Commonwealth Games have been a fascinating event this year and they’ve been packed with lots of success stories from all of the Home Nations. We catch up with our Ambassador and Double Olympic Champion, Joanna Rowsell Shand who since retiring from professional cycling has taken to punditry. Joanna has spent the last few weeks working for the BBC covering the Commonwealth Games.
It has officially been over a year since I announced my retirement from the GB Cycling Team and what a year it’s been! I’ve tried to set myself some varied challenges during that time such as completing the epic Etape du Tour in July last year finishing up the Col d’Izoard as well as starting a degree at Manchester Met Uni in September.
Another activity I’ve enjoyed since retiring has been working with the media for cycling coverage of major events. One of the most common questions I’ve been asked since retiring is do I miss competing? In general I don’t miss it at all as I know the reality of what it takes to get there and I am very much motivated by other goals now, but there is a part of me that will always seek the buzz that you get from competing, and working in the media has been able to help fill that gap – the adrenaline of a live broadcast, the excitement of the racing and the pressure of knowing the programme is going out to millions of people! Pressure is something I wouldn’t say I especially enjoyed as an athlete, but I definitely responded well to it and performed better, so I have realised now in retirement I actually find myself seeking out situations where there is pressure on myself as I do seem to miss it.
Over the last year I have done a combination of commentating and punditry work for different channels and it’s fascinating to get an insight into how production of a major event works, and I will never complain about mistakes by commentators again as it is TOUGH on the spot to tell who’s who! But I do enjoy the buzz of it and I am of course still a big fan of the sport, so staying up to date with what’s going on in the world of cycling and the names of any new up and coming riders comes naturally.
Most recently I worked on the coverage of the Commonwealth Games although unfortunately not from the Gold Coast, but from Media City in Salford! This was the first Games for a long time that I’ve actually been able to enjoy watching, rather than being there competing. It’s a pleasure to watch so many friends and former teammates performing so well and I was particularly pleased for my team pursuit teammate from Rio – Katie Archibald – who won the individual pursuit which was the event I won 4 years ago when the Games were in Glasgow.
It was early alarms for me to get up to Media City for make up at around 7:30am before being on set at 9am for a 9:15am start. Whilst it wasn’t Australia, I have to say the set was pretty cool so good job to the team who made that happen. The broadcast includes coverage of various different sports as the medals start rolling in and there are often changes to the schedule as events over run but that all adds to the fun of it!
Overall my first year of retirement has been great and I loved being able to say yes to so many things I would have turned down before. My next challenge will be sitting my end of year uni exams next month, which will be my first exams in 11 years! Then I’m looking forward to some more travel and sport over the summer.
Joanna will be swapping the commentary seat at the Commonwealth to the seat of a saddle for a Freewheel Holidays trip to the Danube Cycle Path very shortly and we look forward to welcoming her on her second cycling holiday with us! Be sure to follow us on Twitter and like us in Facebook to keep up to date with Joanna's adventure.