Three-time high jump world champion Kajsa Bergqvist was one of Sweden’s sporting superstars of the noughties. Now she presents of one of her country’s leading reality TV shows.

“Since retiring from athletics I have worked as an athletics commentator, but then when the opportunity to get involved with Master Athletes [Swedish title: Athlets] came about, I jumped at the chance. I saw an outline for the show and I said ‘if I’m going to do anything with this, I would like to host it’!

“The show, which is screened on SVT1 at 8pm every Saturday night, sees 12 women and 12 men aged 19 to 35 perform a number of sporting tasks. The participants are all good all-round sportspeople, but none of them are household names. They are then drawn into 12 pairs of one man and one woman each, and then have to train for a particular sporting challenge like pole vault, climbing, archery, swimming etc. In a way you are only as strong as the weakest event of your partner, so each team really has to help each other.”

“It was the first time I have experienced a show of this size. In fact, if you had said a few years ago I would be presenting a show in sports, I would have said ‘no’ because when I was competing I was tired of the media being around me all the time. But a few years after I retired, I started working with sports on TV and I loved it.

“The work is hard and the days are long. In some ways performing in front of the camera is a little similar to competing in the high jump in that you have to perform with total focus. A show like Master Athletes is a little different because it is not live and there are so many elements to it. You have to learn to be patient and wait because of lighting and make-up, yet you still have to be relaxed and natural.

“So much material is not used for the live show maybe only 1 percent, but you cannot relax. You have to be sharp 100 percent of the time because I am not sure which of the one percent they will use. That’s how TV works.”

Kajsa Bergqvist SPIKES ()

Bergqvist says presenting is very similar to the thrill of competition

“Has competing in high jump made me successful at my presenting role? It is sometimes like ‘what came first the chicken or the egg?’ It is that ambition which probably makes me successful and, of course, I‘ve learned to compete in stressful situations where you both hate it and love it, but get a kick out of it.

“I love challenges and presenting a show like this is something I’d never done before, but something I really wanted to do. The show was first broadcast in late August with good viewing figures, so I hope it becomes a big thing.”