Brian Phillips on Landon Donovan: Crying Out Loud
International Olympic Committee.
In this year’s race, 7 of the 15 stages have been won by native English speakers, while all the others have been won by riders — German, Slovak, Belgian and Italian — who have mostly preferred to conduct their news conferences in English.
And the international media pool has grown to such a size that Bradley Wiggins, during his run last July to becoming the first British winner of the Tour, could opt to do all-English news conferences, even though Schyns said that he “speaks French even better than me.” Indeed, Froome, despite his command of French, now speaks to print reporters in English to save energy at the end of each day.
“The other day, because Froome didn’t have time, we did all the questions in English and then afterward, I translated everything and read it all in French,” said Schyns. “Before that would have been unthinkable. It was always in French, and then maybe in English, you know?”"
New York Times: At Tour de France, Default Language is Now English.
Media tip for athletes who compete internationally: be able to give good sound bites in English as well as in your native language. If you want to be able to control your message, you have to be able to say more than just “the shape was good” in the post-race press conference. It’s not fair, perhaps, but you won’t maintain attention by being inscrutable to the majority of your audience, no matter how much you win.
This fact was never more apparent to me than after the men’s team sprint at this year’s World Championships in Val di Fiemme, Italy. The media couldn’t have treated two halves of the same gold medal-winning Russian team more differently. As reporters mobbed 28-year-old Nikita Kriukov with cameras and recorders on stage, his teammate Alexei Petukhov, 30, sat quietly to the side talking to a single Russian reporter.
The difference? Kriukov speaks English. He is either following very good advice, grew up with the privilege of a multi-lingual education, or somehow knew that accessibility is part of his job and made sure to learn the tools that allow him to act accordingly.
Did I want to stop and talk to Petukhov? Absolutely. Did I have the time to speak through his translator? At an event where five hours of sleep was a luxury, no. And so the single meaningless English sentence collected from him after the race had to suffice for the entire report. And unfortunately, this probably affects the way the world perceives him.