Who Is Matt Baker? The Gymnastics Commentator Has A Reason He's So Excited About The Games

When the Olympics roll around, Matt Baker takes a break from his roles as co-host of the British news programs The One Show and Countryfile to join the BBC as a gymnastics commentator. Baker is known for his highly enthusiastic coverage of Great Britain's Olympic gymnastics teams, an enthusiasm that some viewers find contagious and endearing. The reason Matt Baker is an excited gymnastics commentator may be that he was a gymnast himself, but illness in adolescence steered him away from participation in the sport he adores.

In an interview with BBC Sport, Baker explained that he became immersed in gymnastics as a very young child, with no pressure from his parents. His passion for the sport to this day is palpable:

The thing is with gymnastics, I honestly believe it gave me everything I have today. It taught me about dedication. It taught me about putting in the hours, and you get a result ... It's something that is really, really special.

At age eight, Baker trained six days a week and won the Junior Gymnastics Championship. But at the age of 14, he began feeling tired and was diagnosed with anemia. He elaborated in an article in the Daily Mail that his rigorous training was stunting his growth as well. These health issues took him out of gymnastics; eventually, his parents agreed to let him participate in acrobatics, and he later became Junior British Champion.

Though he may not participate in gymnastics any longer, Baker certainly still has a lot of heart for it, and for Great Britain's gymnastic teams. Commentating on the sport is a natural fusion of Baker's past and present interests; he wrote in The Daily Mail that he fell in love with acting as a young adult, and pursued a degree in drama from Queen Margaret University. He withdrew from his studies when he landed a spot as a presenter on the popular British children's show, Blue Peter, in 1999. He's been on TV delighting audiences ever since.

Baker has done a lot in between his years as competing athlete and his role as commentator during the last three Olympics. He's been on a number of British TV shows, set a tandem hang gliding record (with Judy Leden, a British hang gliding champion), and won a record number of Strictly Come Dancing contests while the production was on tour.

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He may not compete in gymnastics anymore, but Baker's not slowing down. And lucky for Britons, he takes a break from his normal gigs every four years to share his continued excitement for the sport.