By Stephen Weir
The 11-episode, 60 minute series, stars the Canadian athlete and ten of North America’s most decorated young athletes who compete in the sort of sports young people love, wakeboarding, gymnastics and skateboarding to name just three.
This is not your average sporting saw-off. The ten athletes – five Americans and five Canadians – don’t compete in their own sports; they will be competing in each others’ specialties! By the end of Season One, there will be a single athlete crowned the All-Round Champion.
Perdita Felicien is a two time Olympian and a two time World Champion in the 100m hurdles. One of Canada’s most decorated track and field athletes, she has won two World Championship silver medals, was named Canada’s Athlete of the Year, and was given the keys to Pickering, her hometown.
After retiring from competition seven years ago, she has moved into the equally competitive world of television – news reporter, television host and sports commentator. So hosting a show that involves both athletics and ratings is a natural fit.
The Caribbean Camera spoke to Felicien last Tuesday while she was on a 90-minute break in the filming of Season Two. “We finished taping the first season and even before it has gone to air we have been picked up to do a second season.”
“We have been filming all over the province, from Muskoka to Toronto. Because this show will be seen in the US (on the BYUtv network) we never specify where we are!” she told the Caribbean Camera.
All-Round Champion is based on a Norwegian show called “Best I Mest”. The programme won an International Emmy and was a huge hit in Europe. Marblemedia, a Canadian company, picked up the North American rights to adapt the concept into English for American and Canadian audiences.
“What makes it different from other competition-shows is that the athletes don’t drop out when they don’t win. I have always believed that in sports you have to have a winner and losers. With All-Round Champion we work with the “losers” each episode to learn new techniques to improve (their game).”
This innovative non-elimination serialized format also features a new ‘Sports Star’ in each episode including Laura Wilkinson, known for being one of the most resilient divers in history, Alicia Sacramone Quin, the second-most decorated American gymnast and Darin Shapiro, the first human ever to land a double-flip on a wakeboard.
Each of the 10 Sports Stars coach and encourage the participants to overcome challenges and conquer each of their fears attributed to the sport. Felicien is the ringmaster, a role that she relishes. “I have hit the highest of highs and the lowest of lows in competition so, I am not afraid to call out the competitors when it is needed!”
She signed on with the show at a time in her life when she probably thought she’d be staying at home. She had just given birth to a daughter, Nova, when the producers came calling.
Her St. Lucian mother urged her take the job. “This is the show, she told me, that you were born for. You can’t turn it down.”
Her family pitched in and looked after Nova whenever Felicien was on the road filming or working on her memoire My Mother’s Daughter.
The show will be aired on educational networks in both countries beginning in May. Her new book drops in April.