John Cullen

BBC and Olympic Broadcast Service TV Commentator

BA (Hons) in Business Studies 1999, MSc Int'l Event Mgmt 2014 and PhD 2019


"The beauty of GCU is that creativity is encouraged and opportunities are provided. How far you run with those opportunities is up to you."

John is a commentator for some of the biggest sporting events around the world, has commentated at the last three Olympic Games and will join the team at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics for his fourth games next year. He balances his media career which takes him all over the world, with a PhD. His thesis looks at how national identity is represented in sport and media. John is also a former international Taekwondo athlete and champion. 

John re-joins the BBC as a commentator for Wimbledon this summer. He says:

"I'm really delighted to be commentating for the BBC at Wimbledon for a second year as it's a genuinely iconic sporting event. It's a wonderful experience to watch the world's best tennis players from court-side and just in case it rains I'll be sure to bring my Alumni magazine to keep me entertained!"

He also recently hosted a peace through sport event for North and South Korea at the International Olympic Committee in April in Lusanne, Switzerland. The President of the IOC Thomas Bach invited John’s sport (Taekwondo) to try to promote peaceful relations between North and South Korea. Taekwondo is a Korean sport and so they did a joint demonstration with North and South Korea participating together for the first time at the IOC headquarters. Then John and his team did the same sporting demonstration and speeches for the United Nations in Geneva to promote unity through sport.

What is your greatest professional achievement? 

I was the captain of the Great Britain team for Olympic Taekwondo and travelled the world competed at the elite level and then moved on to commentate on major sporting events for the BBC and the Olympic Channel. I would say being asked to commentate on a wide variety of different sports – including tennis at Wimbledon – is something I’m proud of.  The opportunity to create connections that I can share with the next generation of students is what inspires me most and so providing GCU students with paid work at the London Olympics 2012, the Commonwealth Games 2014, the European Games 2015 and again at Tokyo 2020 – that’s something I am proud of. 

What are your future plans, both professionally and personally? 

Completing my PhD so that I can lecture on international media and sport and provide a clearer pathway from education to employment for the next generation. That’s what I enjoy doing and hopefully as my network and connections grow I can share that with those who deserve it and want to enjoy their work and make a contribution.  My sister Colette, a GCU Multimedia and Journalism alumna, is a news and sport editor and presenter for Radio Clyde and I hope to work with her on building some media and sport projects that will be successful and fun. I intend to continue with my TV sports commentary position as I enjoy the variety and so every six to eight weeks I will travel to another sporting event. 

What would your advice to students and graduates be? 

My advice to upcoming students or, indeed, graduates is to have confidence and to believe in yourself, to create opportunities, to maximise any opportunity. So if someone gives you a chance, make sure to follow up, make sure to thank them, and make sure to include other people in your opportunities. So when you’re doing something new, you think, ah I’ve met an ex-student or an old friend, bring them in. Include more people and in that way, your network increases and strengthens. So definitely confidence and connections, that’s the two things that I would advise.

MINT (Mentoring, Internships, Networking and Talks) Supporting the Class of 2020


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