The 33rd Olympiad kicks off in Paris next month, and Northern Beaches locals James Bracey and Roz Kelly will be spearheading Channel 9’s ‘greatest coverage ever’ to bring all the action into our loungerooms. Editor in Chief Michelle Giglio reports.

James Bracey and Roz Kelly are having a laugh about the ‘chaos and carnage’ which their partners will have to face when they travel to Paris for three weeks to cover the Olympics next month. James’ in laws will be flying in from New Zealand to help wife Margot in North Curl Curl look after their ‘two little gremlins’: daughters, Tilly, 5 and Abby, 2. Roz says husband Morné Morkel will hold the fort with sons Ari, 8 and Leo, 5 in Seaforth.

“They’ll be eating whatever they want, going to bed whenever they want,” Roz says. “As long as they get to school on time, that’s all that matters.”

“Ice cream for dinner!” pipes in James, which sets the duo off again. We’re in the Manly Leagues Club, following our photoshoot at Brookvale Oval, home to the Sea Eagles, with league a firm favourite for these seasoned sports journalists. The pair both present the sport for Channel 9’s evening news, with James hosting Sunday to Thursday, and Roz covering Friday/Saturday. Roz also anchors the long-running Wide World of Sports on Sundays. They have known each other for almost two decades, joining Sky News at the same time in their early 20s.

Their camaraderie is obvious as they talk about the forthcoming Games, with both ‘honoured’ to be going to Paris for Channel 9. Roz previously covered the London Olympics in 2012 for the broadcaster, while James is a veteran of three summer and two winter Games when at Sky. The big viewing difference this year for punters at home is the rise in technology since Tokyo in 2021, says James. “You’ll never have witnessed a coverage of Olympic Games like what we’re about to do in Paris,” the 39-year-old effuses.

“The use of 9Now and the ability to go on there and choose your sport at any given time will be a game changer. But as for actually being on the ground over there in amongst it, 9’s building a fandangle set which is going to take the coverage to another level.”

James with daughters Tilly (left) and Abby at Brookvale Oval, home of the Manly Sea Eagles

The network has been diligently building the 9 studio for months at the top of the Trocadero area of Paris, which will have the Eiffel Tower as a direct backdrop. This is where James will be based as he hosts 9’s coverage. Roz will relish being a ‘roaming reporter’ around Paris, catching the Metro as she darts around to cover some of the 32 events – starting with the Dolphins in the pool who are expected to haul in ‘a swag of medals’. “My responsibility is just bringing the vibe of Paris and those moments to the people back home here in Australia at all hours of the morning.”

There’s an emphasis on all hours – for this will truly be a 24-hour broadcast, with Australians able to follow events, analysis and replays via 9HD, 9Gem and 9Now all day and night.

James is also looking forward to ‘roaming the streets’ once his shifts are over to soak in the atmosphere. “When you are there on the ground and you’re actually seeing how the city is embracing it, you get swept up in it too. It gives your viewers a better experience because you are talking through what you are living and feeding that back to them. And if you are excited about it and they can see that you’re immersed in it, it makes for a better program.”

Cricket has been a long-time favourite for Roz, pictured here with Aussie quick Mitchell Starc in 2022

While there will be many things done differently in Paris – the Opening Ceremony on barges along the Seine, for example – one aspect which never changes is how ‘swept up’ Australians get with the Olympics, James reflects. “It’s the one time our nation is probably all on the same level. We’ve got different footy codes in different states. Summer we are split between tennis and cricket. But when it comes to the Olympics, every corner of the country is all eyes on our athletes.”

Roz in action at the Australian Open in Melbourne in 2023 with men’s runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas before the final

Australia will have a team of around 450 competing, and while there are some big names expected to do well, it’s the ‘special stories’ about lesser-known athletes which both Roz and James love. “They’re often the athletes that are the biggest characters as well, which are the best to interview and they’re really fun,” Roz says. “I’m looking forward to unearthing new Australian heroes.”

The 38-year-old sports veteran, who has covered almost every style under the sun, including a long stint as BBL host for Channel 10 from 2014 to 2018, is looking forward to covering events she doesn’t do ‘week to week’ like breaking, which will make its Olympic debut. To win this competitive form of break dancing, ‘B-boys’ and ‘B-girls’ must improvise their best hip hop moves, with the audience geed up by a DJ.

The duo will need to switch out of Aussie sports presenting mode and into Olympic fever quite quickly, James says. “I wrap up Origin Three in Brisbane on the Wednesday night (17 July). Host an NRL game on the Friday night. And Saturday 20 July I fly to Paris, and my footy hat goes off and my beret goes on!” he laughs.

Their immersion into all things Olympic and Paralympic has been many months in the making, with Roz featuring athletes vying for selection on Wide World of Sports over the past year.

“(Once in Paris) my footy hat goes off and my beret goes on.”


James with wife Margot, TIlly and Abby

James and TIlly

“The Olympics gives people hope and joy. And that’s what sport’s all about.”


Roz and her family just love the Northern Beaches

As she gears up to interview Australian and international medallists after their wins, I ask how it feels to speak with someone who has just won a gold medal. “It’s pretty special to be there when someone’s dream has come true, and you know how hard they’ve worked for it.” reflects Roz. “My favourite moment from London was interviewing Jess Fox (after winning silver, aged just 18), as she was this little-known athlete. And to see how far she’s come since then, that was really special. So to be there when people achieve their dreams is an incredible moment.”

James believes the ‘new’ sports like climbing and skateboarding – featuring athletes as young as nine and who are mostly in their early teens – will generate a lot of interest. “I think this is going to be one of those Games where you talk about these new sports (with) school kids being thrust on this enormous international stage. You’ll see the birth of household names.”

Having started his journalism career 20 years ago, sport ‘never gets old’ for James – whether its footy, tennis or the Olympics: “You’re a part of something unique, something special. When you can see how much work’s going into something, that’s when you realise just how huge it is and for you to get to be such a key part of it, it’s an honour, a privilege.”

Reflecting on her long career as a journalist, Roz says sport was always a part of her life, growing up in remote mining towns in Queensland, where she did a lot of horse riding. “I just love how happy it makes people. That’s why I love working in it.

“It’s been great seeing how many more females have come into the industry since I began back in the day (aged just 19). And how many hold hosting positions in what was traditionally a male-dominated industry. I think it’s pretty equal now. And that makes me really happy to see.”

Once Roz moved to Sydney, she moved straight to the Northern Beaches, which ‘felt like a big country town’. Snorkelling at the beach and walking the Spit to Manly are favourite past-times for her family. “The lifestyle is so relaxing. You can walk around with bare feet; no one cares.”

James felt the same when he moved to Sydney from the Central Coast, finding the Northern Beaches a ‘bit slower’ than the hustle and bustle of the city. “I feel like there’s an old school element to it that I love which reminds me of my youth.”

For now, the pair are busy downloading French translation apps and getting ready for the fun atmosphere of Paris, a city they say knows how to host a party.

I pose a final question to Roz – what do you love about the Olympics? She doesn’t hesitate with her answer. “It brings people together. It brings the world together. Life stops for two weeks and everyone cheers on their countries. It gives people hope and joy. And that’s what sport’s all about, isn’t it?”

Watch 9’s Beyond the Dream documentary about the journey of Australian Olympic and Paralympic athletes on June 9.