BBC SPORT PRESS RELEASE
BBC Sport commentator, Mike Tucker, announces his retirement
BBC Sport’s lead equestrian commentator, Mike Tucker has today announced his retirement.
After 40 years in the commentary box, Mike, 73, will hang up his microphone after the 2017 Badminton Horse Trials which take place next month.
The former eventer is well remembered amongst audiences for his commentary on so many epic competitions – the historic success of Team GB at London 2012, the 2006 World Championships where Zara Tindall (nee Phillips) won eventing gold and his final Olympic Games in Rio last year, where Charlotte Dujardin and Nick Skelton were victorious again.
Since joining the BBC in 1977 Mike became lead commentator for the sport in 1992, taking over from Raymond Brooks-Ward. He has worked at six Olympic games with London 2012 being a particular highlight for the former eventer. It was at these games that the Team Dressage won their first ever Olympic gold with further golds for Show Jumping and an individual gold for Charlotte. Mike describes the event as ‘just magic’.
On his decision to retire, Mike said: “I’ve been very privileged to cover equestrian sport for BBC TV. It was an enormous thrill and honour to follow Raymond as he had been my mentor for many years. My greatest ambition was to call an Olympic Gold medal and that eventually happened at London 2012, not just once but of course 3 times, it was a week never to be forgotten. The moment Nick Skelton then won gold in Rio was absolute magic and I have been very privileged to enjoy many other pieces of magic for a long time.”
Barbara Slater, Director of BBC Sport said: “After 40 years with us at the BBC we are sad to say goodbye to Mike, he will be missed by his BBC Sport colleagues and audiences alike. Mike has been the voice of equestrianism in this country and he has captured so many historic moments in the sport throughout his wonderful career. His wise words and brilliant critique have been a great addition to our Equestrian commentary and we wish him well in his retirement.”
The BBC will be bringing live coverage of the 2017 Badminton Horse trials staring on Saturday 6th May, 1120 on BBC Red Button, BBC Sport website and on connected TV’s and BBC iPlayer. On Sunday 7th May there will be live coverage from 1400, presented by Clare Balding on BBC Two, BBC Sport website and on connected TV’s and BBC iPlayer.
Notes to Editors
Full statement from Mike Tucker:
I’ve been very privileged to cover equestrian sport for BBC TV since the late 70’s, at the outset with my own sport ‘eventing’ whilst still riding and then when Raymond Brooks-Ward died in 1992 took on his mantel as anchor man for show jumping and dressage as well, which has taken me to 6 Olympic Games and many other competitions around the world for the last 25 years. It was an enormous thrill and honour to follow Raymond as he had been my mentor for many years after I met him at the Mexico Olympics of 1968 and where he set out to explain the sport but also make it fun and entertaining – goals that I have always tried to emulate.
All three Olympic disciplines have changed over the years and so have our fortunes in each one none more so than in Dressage where, in 2009, Britain stepped up to win their first European title and have ever since been one of the world’s leading nations.
My greatest ambition was to call an Olympic Gold medal and that eventually happened at the Games of London 2012, not just once but of course 3 times, with team Gold in dressage first, followed by the amazing Individual Gold of Charlotte Dujardin and the great Valegro in dramatic,nail biting style. If that wasn’t enough our show jumpers pulled of the sensational team gold medal in the best sporting atmosphere I’ve ever witnessed in an equestrian competition. A week never to be forgotten.
One seriously thought that might be the time to call and end to my TV commentary then but I still yearned to witness live an eventing gold so decided to see if that could be achieved in Rio. Sadly that wasn’t to be, but instead back to back Olympic individual titles by one of the best Olympic partnerships that has ever been seen, Charlotte and Valegro made my 2012 decision to carry on, so perfect in it’s own right. As we all know it didn’t end there though because the performance of Nick Skelton and Big Star was one of the most deserved results there has ever been in equestrian sport, indeed I would go as far to say in sport. One of the greatest competitors there has been in world show jumping over many years, broke his neck and still came back from that to be one of the best in the sport again, to the extent he was very instrumental in helping the British team to that team London Gold. But and it was a big, but missed out on the individual Gold, which Nick rightly thought should have been his in London.
2016 was then the target set to try and put that right. For the next 3 and a half years not a lot went right for Nick and Big Star and although there was no doubt he should have been there representing Britain on Big Star, there weren’t too many that felt he could right the wrongs of the individual title in 2012. As we all know the Rio Olympic tournament didn’t go well for GB but round by round Skelton and Big Star got better and better, just squeaking through to the last individual rounds and then to that final jump off against the clock for the medals. The dream was on. Never have i been so nervous, particularly as Nick was first to go and all the big guns followed on. That round of Big Star’s was Nick at his flowing best with the horse at his brilliant best and of course none of the world’s best that followed could match it. It was the most deserved win against so many odds that I have ever witnessed and has to be the most exciting moment I’ve had the privilege of commentating on in my career – Nick was not the only one in tears !!
That was absolute magic and I have been very privileged to enjoy many other pieces of magic for a long time and want to say thank you to everyone who have helped me along the way. It’s taken me around the world and has made many, many friends for me and my family – thank you for the privilege and the many happy memories.