Hello… My name is Tom Bushell.
Welcome to The Sports Explorer.
It’s a joy to welcome you as I explore the world through sport & adventure and look out for the most inspiring stories that I hope will prove useful to you as you travel to new destinations around the world.
The Sports Explorer is designed to inspire, educate and offer advice on what really will make your travel experiences as fulfilling as possible, all based on the best sporting events and adventures whilst getting to know the world a little bit more along the way.
As you have made the effort to not only visit thesportsexplorer.com but also click on the About page, I think it’s only right I should introduce myself properly.
I’m Tom; you know that because I mentioned it above. Keep up.
Back to the beginning – no not 1982, I don’t want to bore you at this early stage. I’ll sum up the last 20 years in just a few short paragraphs. Don’t worry – there is an interesting anecdote about how my diet was once one Mars bar a day.
My career began in radio broadcasting, presenting across many UK music radio stations before moving to Jordan (for a very short 6-week stint) and then Dubai, for a slightly longer 8-year spell. In Dubai I moved from presenting music radio to perusing my passion of working in sports broadcasting. I worked for the the Arabian Radio Network where I was Head of Sport and I presented a weekly sports TV show on the now defunct City 7 TV network.
I loved every minute of it, traveling the world reporting from some of the biggest global sporting events. A couple of years of working non-stop in Dubai in sport radio, TV, print and a busy schedule of hosting events and gala dinners led to me to joining Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing as their Onboard Reporter for the 2014/15 round-the-world Volvo Ocean Race.
Attempting to sail around the world
The opportunity first came to me as I reported on Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s finish to their first Volvo Ocean Race in 2012 in Galway, Ireland. I spent time with the team whilst filming an episode for City 7 TV and sending packages back to Dubai Eye 103.8fm – the Arabian Radio Network’s main news/sport station.
During that week in Galway, I was asked what my thoughts would be about being the team’s Onboard Reporter for the next race in 2014. My first thought? I laughed. Me? Sailing around the world? Not a chance. I couldn’t even contemplate it. But as the months passed by, it came up a few more times and I began to consider it. Could I do it? Could I actually sail around the world? Well, not sail myself - the reporter isn't allowed to actually sail, but could I survive on a racing yacht around the world whilst reporting on the daily trials and tribulations of the team? I had no idea but decided, you never regret the things you go for, only the opportunities you don’t take. So even though I was entirely happy with my life and job I committed to a series of trials with the team, I still didn’t fully believe I would get the role – but to trial for it would be a great experience.
After a week long trial with the team at Cowes Week – an annual sailing regatta in the south of England I was asked to do an offshore trial. And I immediately said yes – despite only ever sailing very close to the coast and even during Cowes Week, the south coast of the UK was never far away.
It turned out my offshore trial would see me sailing with a team from Hong Kong to Vietnam in the South China Sea. ‘Right then, this is a little out of my comfort zone, but no going back now…’ I thought.
There were two typhoons in the South China Sea when we set off from Hong Kong harbour. I had no idea what lay ahead, but somehow managed to survive for the next 5 days, on little more than a Mars bar each day – I didn’t yet have the confidence, or energy to do much onboard! Let alone cook!
I did survive it though, and I was offered the job as Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s Onboard Reporter for the 2014/15 Volvo Ocean Race. A proud moment.
As it turned out, I didn’t have it in me to get around the world. After 5 months of training with the team based in Portugal, and numerous sails in the Atlantic Ocean it was decided I wasn’t right for the role. It was a huge disappointment after falling in love with the idea of circumnavigating the world. But in the end, I wasn’t ready and I doubt I will ever be ready to sail around the world. I left the team, headed back to Dubai and moved on.
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing went on to win that race.
Missing travel, exploring and adventures
One thing that I did learn from that race was my love of adventure. Or perhaps I didn’t learn it then, I just remembered my love for adventure. How could I possibly make adventure my day-to-life?
After the high seas, I settled back into Dubai and worked in PR looking after sporting clients before moving my life back to London.
As a freelancer, I worked for the likes of CNN, ITN Productions and reported on football for BT Sport.
For whatever reason, life had never settled back into the fun, fulfilled and rewarding time I was having pre Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing with the Arabian Radio Network. I was unsettled and a little lost as to where I wanted to be and what I wanted to do as I worked away in London trying to build a new life for myself.
I was missing seeing different parts of the world.
I missed the work travel I had enjoyed so much of in my days at the Arabian Radio Network, I missed broadcasting on a daily basis, I missed telling stories to an audience and now I was in London, I was wondering how on earth I would get back to feeling as fulfilled as I had done, especially as I was now competing against a huge pool of people.
I realised I needed to carve out a niche for myself, I wanted to feel fulfilled again, be busy, feel like I owned what I did again.
The beginning of The Sports Explorer
Then, on one sunny London day, as I was walking along the River Thames watching the Boat Race a plan suddenly began to formulate in my head of what I really wanted to do. That plan that began swirling around my head was that I wanted to travel to different destinations, telling the story of our incredible planet through sport & adventure.
As a lover of travel, sport, adventure and story telling, I have combined all of those passions to create a platform to share my experiences with others…
… and the culmination of all of those elements (and many years of thinking, writing down notes, planning, wondering when to go for it, deciding now is the right time, no, next year would be better, oh hell with it, let’s do this…) is The Sports Explorer.
I’m fascinated with our world, but it is very easy to read about a country through politics, war and conflict, economics or on a lighter note, its cuisine or best tourist spots. I want to take a different direction and discover a country or city through sport & adventure.
In a world where changes are happening, new borders being created, old ones being ripped up, politics making up the majority of news programming… and of course a world which is desperately trying to find a way out of the Covid-19 pandemic there is something that transcends borders, politics and religion and is accessible to all, something that never lets go in giving us hope, escapism and ambition. That is sport and adventure.
The Sports Explorer goes live
I returned to Dubai in 2018 after a two-year stint in London. Ultimately I loved London, I ticked a few boxes of things I wanted to do career wise, I met and worked with some wonderful people, many of whom are now good friends and I came up with my mission to launch a platform to tell the story of our world through sport & adventure. Not too bad for two years work.
I decided Dubai would be the best place for me to launch The Sports Explorer, it’s only taken a global pandemic for me to actually sit down and properly work on it, but here we are and I’ll be spending my weekends, days off and annual leave away from my day job to hunt down the best stories to post on The Sports Explorer YouTube channel - you can subscribe here.
Welcome to The Sports Explorer. I hope the stories you find here will inspire, educate and provide the very best fulfillment to your own travels, as you experience what I discover along the way.