In this entertaining interview, renowned cycling commentator Matthew Keenan will share in detail three of his secrets that have helped him become ‘The New Voice of Cycling’:
‘Volunteer for the job you want to have.’
‘Infect as many people as possible with the bike bug.’
‘Add value to the pictures.’
Matt also shares what life is like behind the scenes when you’re one of the world’s top commentators, travelling the world for up to six months per year (excepting covid lockdowns of course!)
Matt recounts the experience of his greatest moment in race commentary, calling fellow Aussie Mathew Hayman’s against all odds win at his 16th attempt at the Paris Roubaix, just weeks after a potentially career-ending accident.
Having built wide respect and a large social media following, Matt Keenan shares about how he’s used his public profile to support charities that are close to his heart.
Through all of his adventures, Matt’s favourite cycling of all, is far from the Tour de France, with his family in Victoria.
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Read the Transcript
About Matthew Keenan
Matthew Keenan grew up as one of seven siblings in a sports-loving Melbourne suburban home.
Despite parental reluctance, Matt was determined to forge a path as a racing cyclist. Starting as a teenager, he progressed through state and national levels before trying his luck to make the European pro peloton.
Despite significant success, Matt decided that he wasn’t going to reach the levels he aspired to, so returned to Melbourne and a regular office job.
But Matt’s cycling passion remained so over a long apprenticeship he forged a career as a commentator. For years he commentated at local cycling events, free of charge.
Gradually he worked his way up the food chain. Milestones included quitting his day job and making commentating his full time profession, becoming a regular face on TV and covering his first Tour de France.
Several years ago, Matt and his commentating partner Robbie McEwen took over from Phil Liggett and the late Paul Sherwen as the English language ‘world feed’ commentators for the Tour de France owners, ASO. This means that their commentary goes out not just to Australia, but to many other countries around the world.
Matt still loves cycling, both solo and with his young family. He’s used his profile to champion several causes and to ‘infect the world with the cycling bug’.
Episode Summary Notes
Phil and Matt begin this engaging interview by discussing Matt’s very early beginnings as a cyclist and a commentator and how his childhood family situation helped develop his passion and determination for the sport. His grit and dedication took him to the 1996 National Championships, racing with the likes of Bradley McGee, Matt Wilson, Cadel Evans and Josh Collingwood.
Matt continues on to share his three favourite expressions and how they are a major part of his cycling commentary. We uncover the hours of research that go into the ability to quickly identify the riders in the footage and how he has developed the skill to listen to three or more voices in his ear to determine the useful information that adds value to the viewer’s experience of the race.
Phil and Matt spend time talking through the most exhilarating experience in Matt’s commentary career when he got caught up in the thrill of commentating Mathew Hayman’s win in the 2016 Paris-Roubaix against Tom Boonen, describing it as ‘one of the most beautiful moments in sport’. Matt goes on to discuss the work-home life balance of an international career and how he centre’s himself as an ambassador for Bakers Institute, using the sport and leisure of cycling to encourage all people including his own family, to cycle for heart health.
When asked about his role as a father in progressing the cause of cycling in children, Matt admits the struggle is real, when choosing cycling and an active lifestyle over safety for his children. Discussing the culture shift that needs to happen with people’s mindsets, infrastructure and communication in order for Australia to move towards a safe, purpose-built cycling culture.
The interview wraps up with Matt’s insight into career resilience and how we as a people, are quick to recognise and comment on faults and mistakes, and often forget to praise the consistent performance and solid results to date. His parting comment for all was that ‘It’s a privilege to have a public voice on something you love’.