Five Island sports figures to provide Olympic broadcast commentary

It was a sunny, spring morning in Victoria on Saturday and Kimanda Jarzebiak spent it on the internet watching the first World Cup wall-climbing event of the season from Switzerland. That’s the kind of dedication to your sport that gets you noticed.

The depth of sports expertise on the Island is evident by the five commenters, including Jarzebiak, selected as colour commentators for CBC’s coverage of the Tokyo Olympic Games this summer.

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Robert Bettauer will dissect the tennis competition for viewers, Jarzebiak wall climbing, Clare Rustad soccer, Adam Kreek rowing and Phil Mackenzie rugby sevens.

“It reinforces what a capital of excellence we are for sports,” said Bettauer.

Rustad grew up rolling the ball on Salt Spring Island, and is now a physician there. She earned 45 caps for Canada, including at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Victoria’s Kreek, known for his ebullience on the water and off, won Olympic gold at Beijing with the Elk Lake-based Canadian eight.

Mackenzie came out of the University of Victoria Vikes program to play pro rugby with Coventry, Esher, Sale and London Welsh, and represent Canada in the 2011 and 2015 World Cups, earning 32 caps in all.

Bettauer’s concise and telling observations have become a staple of Sportsnet’s coverage of the Rogers Cup. He is the CEO of the Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence at the Camosun College Interurban campus.

Like Rustad, Mackenzie and Kreek, he has been there and done that in his sport. The three-time Canadian singles tennis champion has played in the Davis Cup and coached Canadian teams in the Cup, along with coaching Canada at the 1988 Seoul and 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

This will be Bettauer’s fourth Olympics as a broadcaster. In Seoul, he pulled double duty as broadcaster and Canadian coach, which is sports multi-tasking at its finest. “My first Olympic broadcast was the 1988 Seoul Games calling the Golden Slam of Steffi Graf,” said Bettauer.

Now there are home-country stars to follow.

“Canada has become very competitive in tennis,” noted Bettauer.

While Bettauer is a booth veteran, Jarzebiak will be making her Olympic debut, along with her sport of climbing.

“It’s an incredible honour to introduce our sport to a big audience and explain it to them,” said Jarzebiak, chair of the Boulders Gym Climbing Society in Central Saanich.

“The Olympics will be critical to the growth of our sport and will make people look at it in a way they haven’t before.”

Most of the broadcasters will not make their commentary in Tokyo, but from CBC headquarters in Toronto.

“It’s like mission control at NASA,” Bettauer said of the ­studio setup.

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