Graham Maunder, a multi-award-winning DP, lighting cameraman and chair of the GTC, has covered many iconic moments over the last 40 years. Capturing some of the greatest moments in sporting history, his experience provides insight into how broadcasting has changed in the world of sports.
Game On: Covering Athletic Greatness
Every four years, for two weeks, the world comes together to watch the biggest and most exciting event in sports. Athletes from all corners of the globe, who have spent years dedicating themselves to their craft, gather to compete at the highest level. We, the audience, experience the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat right alongside them, inspired by their remarkable achievements.
Behind the scenes, an army of network broadcasters and camera operators work around the clock to capture every moment of this grand spectacle. They face a daunting task of presenting these awe-inspiring performances in a way that does them justice. The success of this monumental endeavour requires an immense amount of dedication, expertise, and teamwork.
As a seasoned cameraman and Chair of the Guild of Television Camera Professionals (GTC), Graham has witnessed the evolution of broadcasting technology and its impact on the sports coverage. Graham’s expertise has helped shape the way we experience the pinnacle of athletics, from his first outing in Sarajevo in 1984 to his most recent coverage in Beijing, the number of cameras, the speed of transmission, and the quality of footage have improved significantly. “People expect more replays, slow mo’s and stats with each passing game,” he says. As a result, he has been rigging more cameras and laying more cables. He knows that the more shots he can get, the better.
Chasing Down “The World’s Fastest Man”
During his career, Graham has often been hot on the heels of Jamaican superstar sprinter Usain Bolt. Knowing that being in the right place at the right time is key to get the perfect unique shot. He always made sure he had a way to get Bolt’s attention. Graham recalls, ” The West Indies were playing in a test match, so I used to put a little thing on top of my camera just above the lens that had the current score for him. So, as he came out, he always came to me. I’d have my Man United hat, and he knew I had the cricket score. The two things that were the most important to him after his own athletics career.”
In 2016, after Usain’s last race, Graham was ready to take a shot of Mo Farah about to go out on the track when Bolt tapped him on the shoulder. “We got to take a selfie. You’ve been here for all my medals,” Usain said. Graham couldn’t say no to such a great man, and he took a selfie with Bolt. After that, he got some excellent shots with Usain and Mo Farah for NBC’s broadcast.
Experience, Judgement, and Luck
Home Advantage: A Time to Shine
The 2012 London Games were a significant moment in Graham’s career. It was in his hometown, and he was working for the American broadcaster NBC. He wanted to ensure that the event was the best it could be. “I wanted people to enjoy London. I wanted there to be some amazing races and everything from the opening ceremony to the closing ceremony to be perfect.”
To ensure everything went according to plan, 200km of electric cables – enough to stretch from London to Nottingham – ran through tunnels built under the Olympic Park. “I think London smashed it,” Graham says. “We had one of the best opening ceremonies, 100% filled stadiums, and every event, every day, whether it’s a heat or a final, was excellent.”
The closing ceremony
In 2024, Maunder will cover his 20th and final games as a broadcast camera operator at the Paris games. He says, “I will have finished on 20 Olympics, which is just an amazing thing to say. And I feel very honoured that I’ve been to so many sporting events in different countries, different continents, and being part of that celebration.”