Gabby Logan has recently been awarded an MBE for her work as a sports broadcaster and for promoting women in sport. She takes rare time out to talk to Amanda Morison about representing Wales as a teenager in the Commonwealth Games and her lifelong love of the beautiful game.
You had to stop as a gymnast aged 17 due to back problems. A cause for sadness?
I’d love to have played sport for a living, but it wasn’t an option health-wise. Besides, back then – and we’re talking 30 years – it was pretty hard for women to earn money out of gymnastics, or out of any sport. There wasn’t even professional women’s football back then.
So sport has changed since you were competing?
Massively. The National Lottery has changed everything, and brought money into sports like hockey and netball that previously struggled for funding. So many more sports are professional today. And it’s not just the competitors. Producers, directors, presenters and everyone else involved are much more diverse today.
When did you decide to become a broadcaster?
I’d appeared on Blue Peter with my gymnastics team when I was 15, loved it, but didn’t know how the industry worked. I studied law at Durham University, but worked for local radio and TV while there. Sky asked me in for a screen test and it went from there. You seem incredibly focused. Is motivation the key to success? It’s partly my nature and partly having to be disciplined having done so much sport as a child. I definitely felt quite grown-up when I got to university. One of my brothers died suddenly, aged 15, just before I started and this gave me a sense of wanting to seize every moment.
Have you always been interested in football?
My father, Terry Yorath, was a player, manager and coach. It was always fun going to matches, and running around the car park and bar with other players’ kids. My younger brother is a talented football player so it’s a big thing in my family.
What did your parents think of your broadcasting career?
They’ve always just gone with things. I was the first person in my family to go to university and when I worked on Newcastle local radio we all thought I’d go down the news and current affairs route. My father was nervous when I started at Sky – he thought I might show him up when interviewing people he knew! What’s the favourite show that you’ve presented? Sports Personality of the Year is big. Lots of different elements, and it’s emotional. I have to watch the video elements on Saturday night or I’d be in danger of being in bits on the night. I love doing Back of the Net on Amazon Prime, which I present with John Bishop and Peter Crouch.
“My father was nervous when I started at Sky – he thought I might show him up when interviewing people he knew!”
What do you think of the Invictus Games?
Prince Harry did a brilliant job getting it off the ground, and it’s part of the rise (and rise) of para sport. 30 years after Tanni Grey-Thompson was competing I was walking my children to school and my son said to my daughter, “I’ll be Usain Bolt, you be Johnnie Peacock” – they saw no difference between the two.
Do you manage to get a work/ life balance?
You have to check constantly that your family and work are getting the right amount of attention. My husband Kenny takes the mickey out of me for being super organised but you get more out of life if you plan.
What charities do you support?
I work with Sparks and it’s very close to my heart. I’m also the President of Muscular Dystrophy UK, taking over from Sue Barker who took over from David Attenborough. Yes, quite some company to keep! I’m also very passionate about promoting women in sport.
Your advice to today’s aspiring broadcasters?
Have genuine passion. It’s hard to get into, you work at unsociable times in difficult situations, and you’ll get pushed down the list of contenders if you don’t put the hours in.
Photography: Matrixstudios.co.uk Copyright