Language focus | 06.08.2012

Bradley Wiggins ensures that when it really counts nothing gets lost in translation

Last week we saw how Bradley Wiggins, the winner of the Tour de France 2012 and now Gold medallist at the Olympic Games in London, had won over some French hearts with his ability to communicate in their language. More recent coverage touches on how he always reverted back to English, his mother-tongue, when discussing doping at press conferences. In a sport, where world record holding athletes, such as Lance Armstrong, have been investigated for doping, Wiggins wanted to ensure that he was very clear on his stance towards drugs and his beloved sport. Wiggins mania in the UK is of course down to his fantastic sporting achievements of the last couple of weeks, but we also think that his clear messages about anti-doping has warmed both English and French people alike to his integrity. Speaking at French press releases in English on this issue, using a French interpreter, ensured he knew exactly what he was saying and that nothing got lost in translation.

Perhaps Philip Hindes, German born cyclist, cycling for team GB earlier this week in the three lap team sprint, could have learned a lesson or two from Wiggins’ caution. The 19 year old was heard to say to the press that he “…just crashed, I did it on purpose to get a restart, just to have the fastest ride“. His coach later explained that he had only been learning and speaking English for two years and so perhaps his real message was lost in translation.

When it really counts, and it’s essential to get the message right, the services of a professional translator working exclusively into their native language is vital. One word or phrase out of place and in the examples above professional atheletes run the risk of endangering their acclaimed titles.

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