Interview with Norfolk presenter Rachel Stringer
- Credit: Archant
From superbikes to snooker, football to esports, Norfolk television presenter Rachel Stringer reveals how her sporting career led her on a very different path
As an aspiring young runner, Rachel Stringer dreamed of being a professional athlete. Yet a decade later, her sporting career has taken her in a very different direction as she travels across the world presenting television coverage of everything from football and athletics to esports and superbikes.
In fact, such is her new-found passion for the high speed adrenaline fuelled world of superbikes it was only a matter of time before she too, gave life on two wheels a go - though with strict instructions from her mum.
"I have had lessons and passed my test in January but I have only been out on my Triumph motorbike about three times so far, as I am still a little nervous. I am going to do a track day soon to boost my confidence and build my skills, but Mum has told me I am absolutely not allowed to ride in London so it is only for here in Norfolk!" she laughs.
Growing up in Reepham she was a member of City of Norwich Athletics Club and represented Great Britain at running, competing in the European Youth Olympics and the Commonwealth Youth Games, before going to Loughborough University. "I wanted to be a professional athlete and went to Loughborough, which is a top sporting university, for that reason, but it didn't really pan out as I kept getting injured."
While at university, she found out about a BBC Radio sports reporter internship at Radio Leicester and decided to give it a go. It gave her a 'bit of a bug' for sports broadcasting.
She decided to explore a career in television production and began applying for jobs - getting her big break as a runner on the 2012 Paralympics.
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"I was so lucky, I loved it and decided my ambition was to become a producer. At that stage I hated even answering the phone or talking to people I didn't really know; I only ever wanted to be behind the scenes."
She continued getting production experience on various television shows and when the programme she was working on at BT Sport wasn't re-commissioned, the channel offered her an unexpected opportunity.
"They asked me if I wanted to train up to be a sports presenter. I had never wanted to be in front of the camera so I rang my mum as I didn't know what to do; it felt like an enormous step into the unknown."
Today, she has worked across a wide variety of sports for a number of broadcasters nationally and internationally, has presented children's sports shows for Nickelodeon and CBBC, reports for BBC's Football Focus and Match of the Day, and has covered Women's Super League football, Wimbledon and international athletics.
But there are two areas in particular where she has thrown her focus, to great success - esports and the British Superbike Championships.
"Funnily enough, I was working on a very different sport when I took the call about the superbikes - snooker! Talk about a different pace.
"I knew nothing about it but I thought I would say yes and do some research to see if I liked it. I spent the next 10 days getting so into superbikes. I thought it was brilliant, absolutely awesome. It is the best thing that has ever dropped into my inbox."
She says her move into esports is very much a learning curve, but she believes it is very much a boom area.
"It is still very new and no-one really knows where it is going but it is incredibly exciting to be a part of. I worked on the EA Sports FIFA Global Series and in the last year, it has gone from 33m watching to 55m watching across the season. This is a very real sport. The facts and figures are extraordinary. Some of these teenage players are earning serious money."
She says she feels lucky to have started her career at a time when there are so many more women making their mark in sports broadcasting.
"I don't see why women shouldn't have those roles," she says. "Often it is all about opinion; people can agree or disagree with you, but that should never be because you are a woman. Sometimes though, it still is, even if your male colleague said the same thing half an hour earlier.
"In superbikes I am the only girl in the paddock, but I am never made to feel out of place. I feel very proud that I am doing this job. The young girls who are passionate about watching the superbikes often come and say they love seeing me presenting. I hope I am encouraging those young girls into the sport in the future in some way."
She says her weekends are usually tied up with working, so any time off is precious.
"I have just bought a flat in London and since I moved in three weeks ago I think I have spent three nights there.
"When I am not working it is usually during the week when most other people are working. So I love to just come home to Reepham and head out to the beach with my surfboard or paddleboard. It is just so magical being near the coast."