Monday, January 07, 2008

Clinton Grybas, 1975-2008.

L-R Blake Leigh-Smith, Dwayne Russell, Clinton Grybas, Tom Reynolds. Photo Jay Mueller

I first met Clinton in 2005, when I was asked by the Powers That Be to go to Phillip Island for MotoGP and offer up a few race preview comments and keep Clinton and Dwayne informed. It was supposed to be a background role and I was excited.

After I previewed the early races (and seemingly/amazingly impressed) Clinton asked that I hang around and offer up "expert comments" for the main race. For me, this was a dream come true. I felt like Robert Walls, Murray Walker and Roy Higgins rolled into one. During the race, the pre race briefing I gave the boys worked perfectly. Clinton may not been a MotoGP regular, but boy he knew how to broadcast it. He wove perfect opportunities for me to use my knowledge and for the listener to feel like they were there in the booth with us.

Post-race, Clinton asked me to head out in the paddock and find some racers to interview. My interview with Chris Vermuelen remains one of my favourite radio memories and without Clinton's encouragement; nay, insistence that I do said interviews I doubt I would be a 3AW regular.

In 2007 I "repaid" the favour by suggesting to the Grand Prix corporation that Clinton be included in the Celebrity Grand Prix. This was a great idea on paper, except for one teeny problem; he had never driven a manual. To any one else this might have been a reason to say "thanks, but no thanks". Clinton was not easily put off and despite a rocky start he not only learned to drive a manual, but learned to drive it hard. He stayed back after school like a good student and picked the brains of Allan Moffat and the other trainers, looking for an improvement here and there. He may have been a commentator, but he had the drive, preparation and determination of a pro athlete.

His passing is not only a shock, but a huge loss. It seems insane that I will not be working with him again, nor listening to him on the radio. He has set the bar near unfeasibly high for young broadcasters and the sports broadcasting industry is better for it.

My deepest sympathies go out to his family and friends.

Jay Mueller's comments
I took this photo (Top) during the 2006 Moto GP at Phillip Island. Dwayne Russell, Clinton and Tom Reynolds are interviewing teenage rider Blake Leigh-Smith. Dwayne looks of mildly amused, as if he’s thinking about what he was doing when he was 16. Tom just looks happy to be there. Clinton looks interested. That was the thing about him, he was. Whether it was AFL, Australian Open tennis, boxing or some obscure overseas sporting event, Clinton cared. I had the privilege to work with Clinton during the 2006 Commonwealth Games and I always enjoyed talking to him when our paths crossed at AW. He was a terrific guy and a thrill to work with.


posted by thr at 11:20 am


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