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13 days ago
By motogp.com

"In sport, talent is rewarded, gender doesn't matter"

By finding and telling exceptional stories, Izaskun Ruiz has become a leading journalist in the MotoGP™ World Championship

Tags MotoGP, 2022

Once upon a time, there was a little girl who was magnetised by the news, more specifically, those bringing her the news. Even as a young girl she knew that was her calling, that one day she would play witness to and commentate on current events. Like the journalists she listened to, she wanted to allow the viewers to feel that they were there, where history was being written.

That little girl was Izaskun Ruiz, today known as one of the most popular and influential sports journalists in Spain, currently a reporter with DAZN, as well as being an authoritative international reference for the MotoGP™ World Championship. Sport and journalism, a combination that came about (almost) by chance. Her goal was clear, as was her path, so Izaskun enrolled in a Journalism course at the University of Navarra in Spain.

“In my second year I started an internship at a local television station, and they gave me sports. It was a natural combination: for years I had done rhythmic gymnastics at a competitive level, so sport had always been an important part of my life.”

After overcoming her shyness to allow her dream to become a reality, Izaskun started to work as a journalist, reading news on radio and doing the first television reports on the matches and sporting events that were assigned to her: "There was always a professional supervising my work but I was allowed to put my hands in the dough so I could try, make mistakes and learn."

After finishing her studies, she moved to Madrid to do another internship, but this time in the editorial office of TVE, Televisión Española: "I started by following sport and then I was offered my first job as a weather presenter. That experience allowed me to learn how to work live and, later, I went back to following sport."

Having become the presenter of the morning edition of the sports news, in 2010 the opportunity arose to devote herself to a single project. "We followed a lot of sports and for 2010-2011, TVE bought the rights to the MotoGP™ World Championship and they asked me to be a part of this team.

Entering the MotoGP™ paddock

Having worked in a number of sporting environments, the MotoGP™ paddock proved to be particularly welcoming, according to Izaskun, but also demanding: "Until I had the chance to make myself known, I felt a bit detached from some people,” she explains, "but you gain professional respect by working every day. It's hard to get it and it's easy to lose it, that's why you can never relax, " she emphasises. "So, through the way you present yourself, the questions you ask, the way you tell what you are told, you build a reputation."

A long lap before returning to the track

The first year I was thrown into the pit lane and it took me the whole season before I got to know who all the people involved in the different teams were and the way they work," she continues. "The second year I started to enjoy myself, to realise how I could enrich our work. At the end of that season, TVE did not renew the television rights to MotoGP™ but Izaskun found herself reporting on the 2012 London Olympics, Dakar and the World Swimming Championship for the Spanish broadcaster.

"I really enjoyed working in MotoGP™ and I was left with the desire to do more," explains Izaskun, who left TVE and Madrid in 2014 to move to Barcelona in order to satisfy her desire to continue what she had started on Movistar's screens. "At the time, the station's reference points were Ernest Riveras and Javier Grima, two professionals with whom I had already worked and whom I admire greatly, so knowing that they were there was an important security. In addition, working with skilled people allows you to learn a lot and to progress."

Immersed in an environment where engineering is at its most sophisticated, Izaskun found that analysis and asking the right questions were the tools she needed to ensure accurate and correct information: "I think the key to our work is knowing what to ask and who to ask. I am surrounded by people who are super-specialised in this field and who can explain the work that goes on in the pit better than anyone else. So, I'm in the paddock to identify what's interesting to people at home, and then try to get the most out of the people I interview."

Through her work, Izaskun has contributed to the narrative of characters who have written indelible pages in the history of the sport: "Every time I interview a driver I feel the emotion of the first time. In 2010 three Spaniards won: Jorge Lorenzo, Toni Elias and Marc Marquez. At the time I had contact mainly with 125cc riders, so I knew Marc from the beginning of his career in the World Championship. I remember the first time I went to the garage to interview him, he impressed me because he was a kid but you could already see that he had something different and he showed it with his sporting talent."

A place that rewards ability

Throughout her ten seasons in MotoGP™, Izaskun highlights the importance of seeing more and more women involved in different professional roles within teams and organisations: "When we were at Movistar we organised a column to talk about the women who work in the paddock so that the girls who follow the sport could find references and say: 'this world can be for me too'. That was the aim.

Focusing on the female professionals in technical roles, Izaskun emphasises: "No one is there because they are women, but because they are good at their job and being women they have had to work harder to be where they are. This shows that sport is not interested in gender but in people's abilities.

And in 2021 we saw a woman on the MotoGP™ podium for the first time, as she recalls: "Jennifer Anderson, who works with Marc Marquez, spent many years at KTM alongside Pol Espargaro. The fact that she stood on the podium to celebrate Marc's victory in Austin is significant. I was thrilled, I don't remember ever seeing a woman representing a MotoGP™ team on the podium before.

Focusing on the present builds the future

Dedicated to reporting during Grands Prix and the stories of the stars who make the paddock come alive, Izaskun explains the power of this environment: "The world of sport is very inspiring. If you have played sport at a competitive level you have an idea of the sacrifices and efforts needed to achieve certain results. So to find out how much work and sacrifice goes into winning a medal is motivating and I love being able to be around people with strong and compelling stories.

Carrying out an interview isn’t just about asking questions, it requires finding the right words so that the interviewee feels comfortable to answer with frankness and sincerity. A skill that belongs to Izaskun and that has made her a reference point for her many admirers. "When I receive compliments from female students or enthusiasts, I feel proud and wonder if I deserve to receive such gratifying words. And, at the same time, it makes me think about the impact of what I do and how I do it."

This story began with the image of Izaskun as a little girl sitting fascinated by the links made by journalists from every corner of the world on TV, and ends with Izaskun in front of the camera with a microphone in hand and a mission to accomplish: "I would like to convey authenticity and be able to make the same emotion that I experience at that very moment to those who are listening to me, allowing them to perceive the greatness that there is in a sport like MotoGP™."

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