Justifiably called ‘The Master Sportscaster’, Bruce McAvaney has covered almost every sport and major event including horse racing, athletics, AFL, motor racing, tennis, golf, and the Olympics and Commonwealth Games. McAvaney’s excitement has been a major part of Australian sporting moments.
McAvaney started his media career in 1976 at Radio 4DN in Adelaide, calling horse races and hosting a sports show. In 1978, he moved to television and joined ADS7 to read sports news and produce the weekly Racetrack show.
His first big break came in 1980 when workmate Sandy Roberts went to the Moscow Olympics for Seven. McAvaney was chosen to host the Adelaide end of the telecast.
In 1983, McAvaney joined Melbourne’s Channel 10 to read sport news with then cadets Eddie McGuire and Stephen Quartermain working under him. He then travelled to the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics for Ten to commentate on the track and field events and be a secondary host.
He later co-hosted Ten’s telecast of the 1988 Seoul Olympics to overwhelming public and critical acclaim. He won the 1989 Penguin Award for ‘Best Sports Presenter’, and an International Olympic Committee Media Award.
During his time at Ten, McAvaney also called the Melbourne Cup from 1985 to 1988 and hosted telecasts of major sporting events including the 1987 World Athletics Championships in Rome and the 1988 Grand Prix athletics in Berlin as well as reporting from the 1986 Edinburgh Commonwealth Games.
In November 1989, McAvaney returned to Seven where he established Sportsworld as the most authoritative and highest rating sports show on television. Revelling in the huge amount of sport televised by the network, he commentated and hosted events including the AFL grand final, the Brownlow Medal, Bathurst 1000, Australian Open and Davis Cup tennis, President’s Cup and Australian Masters golf, world athletic and swimming championships, the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics, the 2000 Sydney Olympics, the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games and Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, and the 2004 Athens Olympics.
He joined Melbourne radio station 3AW for the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games to call athletics and co-host the nightly show Sports Today called The Games Today for the 11 days of competition. He provided an epic commentary of Craig Mottram’s silver medal in the 5000m
McAvaney is known for his meticulous research and in-depth knowledge of the sports and athletes he covers. His commitment has resulted in awards including the inaugural TV Week Logie for Most Outstanding Sport Broadcaster in 1999 ahead of cricket legend Richie Benaud, racing caller Johnny Tapp and SBS soccer host Les Murray.
Just some of McAvaney’s memorable moments include:
- When Catherine Freeman crossed the finish line to win gold at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, McAvaney let fly with the superlatives and was overcame with emotion when he said “what a moment, what a legend” to which athletics legend Raelene Boyle replied “what a relief”.
- When Gary Moorcroft took mark of the year for Essendon against Western Bulldogs at Telstra Dome in 2001, McAvaney remarked “that will go around the world on CNN” – and it did.
- He was the lone caller when legendary AFL full-forward Tony Lockett kicked his 1300th career goal to become the all-time greatest goalkicker in the game’s history, while playing for the Sydney Swans at the SCG in 1999.
- When Makybe Diva won the Melbourne Cup for the third time in succession in 2005, McAvaney dubbed it “the greatest victory in the history of the race”.
McAvaney has now returned to Channel 7 to commentate the 2007 AFL Season.
McAvaney was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in 2002 for his service to sports broadcasting and to the community.