He first hit our screens as the zany 'Abs' on CBB television, and now he is all set to be the voice of hockey at the Rabobank Hockey World Cup. FIH catches up with the engaging, if slightly frenetic, Mike Absalom.
How did you make the move from 'zany' CBBC's presenter to sports commentator?
"In 2006/2007 I was presented with an opportunity to commentate on a few games of hockey for Eurosport. I play hockey, and had played for England U18/U21, so they literally put me straight into a studio, gave me a microphone and a television monitor to watch the game and said "Off you go then!" After being thrown in at the deep end I have commentated on a variety of sports including: football, rugby, skiing, and Formula One."
What is your background in hockey?
I've played hockey since I was 8 years old and have always loved the competitive nature of the game. In 1997 I made my debut for England U18's and went on to train with the England U21's after I finished school, but in 2000, after years of 'full commitment' to hockey I 'jumped ship' to become a ski instructor in Canada.
I love commentating, but every time I hear the whistle blow, I wish I was still playing out there. I still play competitively for a club in London (Richmond HC) and will keep playing until I'm about 90. My goal is to play senior internationals for England/GB.
When you are commentating, how do you pitch your style so that it presents hockey as a serious sport for hockey aficionados but with a real appeal to sports fans with less hockey knowledge?
"My job as a commentator is actually a very simple one. It's to tell the story of the game whether that be to a seasoned pro or a new comer. The skill is to get that balance and tone right for the audience, young and old. My goal has always been to add something extra to each and every game. There are always talking points so that's what I focus on. It also helps if there are goals and the game is fiercely competitive.
Have you ever made a complete howler?
I did once call 'Kelly Fairweather' (CEO of FIH) 'Kelly WareFeather' - Oooops. I actually said it twice, during the first edition of The Hockey India League. Sorry Kelly!
Outside of that name pronunciations can be a real challenge, but I normally get the opportunity to sit down with the team managers or the players themselves ahead of a tournament to make sure I get that right! And you can rely on feedback via Twitter if you get something wrong.
What has been the best commentary moment for you - have you had a 'they think its all over moment'?
Over the years I've been lucky enough to work on the Olympics, Champions Trophy, Indoor World Cup, Hockey India League but....
Weirdly the first one that springs to mind is when a stray dog ran onto the pitch in Argentina last year (2013) at the Women's World League Finals!! Since it happened the clip has gone viral and helped to promote hockey on a global scale!
In your Wiki entry it refers to you as a 'heart throb'. How do you cope with that status?
Hilarious. I think someone must have put that up there for a laugh!!
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