Kate Chisholm

Eyes wide shut

Kate Chisholm on Radio Five Live's coverage of diving at the Olympics

What a dilemma. The synchronised diving, with young Tom Daley taking part for Team GB, was due on at 7.30 on Monday morning, but that’s when I have to write my column. How could I watch the Olympics on TV when I should be writing about radio? And yet, having missed the cycling and Nicole Cooke’s extraordinary gold, I really wanted to catch the atmosphere of watching this event ‘live’, just in case our plucky 14-year-old did succeed in seizing a medal. There was only one solution — Radio Five Live, which boasts it can give us all the action of the Olympics as it happens. But surely diving, and especially synchronised diving, is the most ridiculous sport to cover on radio? Diving is over so quickly, and depends so much on the shock of the fall, the acrobatic finesse of the twist, the lack of splash as the diver hits the water. You need to see it to believe it. What would be the point of listening ‘live’ as Daley and his synchronised partner, Blake Aldridge, tumbled, turned, piked and fell ten metres through the air if I couldn’t see them hitting the water in exact synchronicity? Here was the perfect opportunity to verify whether Radio Five Live can live up to its USP. If it can convincingly conjure up diving, it’ll be convincing on any sport — even on the archers.

In the event it was not Daley and his mate who earned the medals, but the Five Live team. You’d have to be made of stone not to be caught up by their enthusiasm and impressed by their professionalism, working flat-out to convey to us listeners what they were seeing and believing. There was no need for pictures.

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