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  • Using Your Cover

    Health Shelf with Mark Howard

    For Australian sports journalist Mark Howard, books offer a world of inspiration and reflection.

    Helping to pass time while travelling, guiding adventures through new cities and providing hours of entertainment with his kids at the local library, books are an enriching and informative part of Mark Howard’s life. The floating bookshelf in the living room of his family’s home is Mark’s creation and houses some of his favourite titles. Here are a few that jumped out…

    With travel a big part of his life, Lonely Planet guidebooks line the shelves. From surfing hot spots to cultural explorations, these well-thumbed pages have led Mark and his partner Erica on a path of discovery and now provide a daily reminder of journeys travelled.

    Nearby sits Total Recall, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s autobiography, which Mark describes as one of the best books he’s read in a long time. He explains that he wasn’t really a fan of Arnie before reading it, but picked up a copy while at an airport. The story of how he came from nothing yet stopped at nothing to achieve what he wanted – from bodybuilding, to starring film roles, to becoming a governor – was a message Mark found incredibly inspiring.

    Alongside this is one of Mark’s all-time favourite books, The Alchemist. Paulo Coelho’s classic tale follows the journey of Santiago, a young Andalusian shepherd who ventures to Egypt after having a recurring dream of finding treasure there. Besides this is J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy, another much-loved read.

    As a sports commentator and TV presenter, sporting idols and their stories rank high for Mark, and Andre Agassi’s autobiography Open takes the cake. “The first 35 pages are the best 35 pages of a sports book I’ve ever read,” he says. “It’s all about him getting up to play a match. It’s near the end of his career, he’s won everything, he’s the best tennis player there has been for a long time, but the self doubt he is wracked with every morning is unbelievable.”

    Accompanying these sit the memoirs of cricketing legends, stacks of surfing magazines, a collection of fictional stories and a few sci-fi novels – a little insight into Mark’s interests and literary leanings.

    Q&A with Mark Howard

    How has working in the world of sport impacted your own health and fitness?

    It has had a really positive impact, mainly because I work with athletes all the time who are really fit and healthy people. The best example is working on the Kellogg’s Ironman Series. You sit in the commentary box and spend all your time watching these guys on the beach who are the fittest people inAustraliaand they’re such great, positive role models. You get to travel with athletes and go to the gym with them, and they show you different ways of training or swimming or running – they are a massively good influence on me.

    What are your favourite sports to commentate?

    Cricket starts up in December and I’m beside myself about that. I love cricket. I grew up watching it and playing it, so to get the opportunity to do the cricket is really good. The upcoming winter Olympics will be brilliant as well because we get to commentate on those crazy sports we never get to see.

    What are your career highlights?

    We get to do a lot of fun things. I’ve been for rides in V8 supercars, tried hang gliding, rode on the back of a motorGP bike and went parachuting – the thrill side of the job is really cool. Interviewing people, the true superstars of sport like Tiger Woods, David Beckham and Michael Schumacher, is also unbelievable. We did a game of soccer for Channel Ten and Beckham was great, he answered heaps of questions and when he introduced himself he said, “Hi, my name is David.” I was thinking to myself, err yes, I know!

    Do you have a sporting idol?

    Allan Border. When I was growing up watching cricket in the mid-80s,Australiawasn’t that good but Allan Border was. IfAustraliawas going to do any good, it was how Allan Border went. He was one of those blokes who was never the best player or the most stylish player, but he was the most gutsy player. Hence the fact that I like Steve Waugh – he’s not necessarily the most talented, but the one that sticks with it the most.

    To watch Mark in action be sure to watch sport on Channel 10 this summer.

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