Olympic hero and veteran broadcaster dies aged 65
One of Bermuda’s Olympians and a veteran broadcaster has died, it was announced yesterday.
Mike Sharpe, who was 65, competed in the 100 metres at the 1976 summer Olympics in Montreal, Canada, also excelled in the triple jump, ran in relay races and played competitive cricket.
He later had a distinguished career as a sports and news journalist at the Bermuda Broadcasting Company and the former VSB station for more than five decades.
The station will air a special tribute to Mr Sharpe’s life and career on tomorrow night’s news broadcast.
Patrick Singleton, the chief executive of the BBC and also an Olympic athlete, said: “Mike’s passing is huge shock to all of us at Bermuda Broadcasting.
“He was a well-liked, larger than life character and had a great talent for drawing the best out of his interviewees.
“He had a friendly but authoritative voice and his live commentary on football, athletics and cricket became part of the sporting fabric of our island.”
Mr Singleton added: “Mike had been a tremendous athlete and as a fellow Olympian I always felt proud to be associated with him.
“He will never be forgotten and I want to extend my heartfelt condolences to his family.”
Ulric “Rick” Richardson, the former chief executive of the Bermuda Broadcasting Company, said that he was news manager after the merger of Bermuda Broadcasting News, tasked with pulling the two teams of the respective companies together.
“At the time I did the news and sports bulletins and sport commentary and was looking to identity a young talent who could be taught the rudiments of sports journalism and broadcasting.
“Enter Mike Sharpe, who was on a track scholarship at a University in Florida but was looking to be gainfully employed.
“Mike was a ready made star through sport and was an elite athlete and I felt the sky was the limit for him in sport journalism.
“He had a great voice, and sharp features that endeared him to the television side of the business. He ultimately took the lead in live remote marathon coverage, working with me on occasions and later partnered with Adrian Robson for many years in the Front Street Mile and International Race Weekend.”
Mr Richardson added: “Most of us wanted more for Mike than he wanted for himself given his raw talent and ability. Sad to learn of his passing.”
Peter Dunne, the president of the Bermuda Olympic Association, said: “On behalf of the Bermuda Olympic Association, our members and all Bermuda Olympians, we extend our sympathies to the family and friends of Mike Sharpe.
“His legacy as an Olympian is a part of our proud history and his support of the Bermuda sporting community has extended far beyond his years as a competitor.
“For this we will always be grateful and hold him close in our memory”.
Branwen Smith-King, the Secretary General of the BOA, added “He was one of Bermuda’s most talented athletes as a world-class sprinter and horizontal jumper.
“Mike’s warm personality and vibrant smile will be greatly missed.”
Ms Smith-King said: “Mike was one of a kind and loved by so many people from all walks of life.”
Donna Raynor, a former president of the Bermuda National Athletics Association, added: “Mike was one of the best sprinters and triple jumpers Bermuda has had.
“He always gave back to Bermuda, whether as an athlete or a sports journalist.
“He always kept track and field in the limelight in Bermuda.”
Mr Sharpe, who died at the weekend in Florida, took early retirement from the BBC’s ZBM in 2019.
But he continued to contribute to the station on a freelance basis until earlier this year.
Chris Lodge, a former news director at VSB, which closed in 2014, said: “Mike lived for his beloved sports.
“Even when assigned to a news story, Sharpie would uncannily somehow find a sports angle to report.
“His easy personality many times helped defuse tense situations when deadlines loomed.
“Sharpie will leave an indelible make in the history of Bermuda media.”
Mr Sharpe obtained the first major interview with Carika Weldon, the scientist heading the Government’s fight against Covid-19, when she returned to Bermuda from a research job in Oxford, England, last year.
Ian Rawlins, the sales and special projects manager at the BBC, first worked with Mr Sharpe in 1987.
Mr Rawlins said: “Mike was then the sports director, and anchor for television news and sports.
“He was a natural for presenting radio and television broadcasting and his voice and mannerisms were well suited to all facets of broadcasting.
“As a sports journalist he was fair, passionate and respected by his peers.”
Mr Sharpe provided his last live commentary in the summer during the Bermuda Half-Marathon Derby, alongside Mike Watson.
Mr Rawlins said: “Mike will be sorely missed by his colleagues and the broadcast community at large and I send my condolences to his family and friends.”
Jasmine Patterson, the BBC’s news director, said: “I'm at a loss for words. The news of Mike's passing is heartbreaking – we've lost a sports and journalism hero.”
Tony McWilliam, the BBC’s executive producer, said: “Mike was a natural broadcaster whose ebullient personality shone through in his reporting.
“People enjoyed being interviewed by him because he was sincere, knowledgeable and engaging.
“Getting to know Mike was a pleasure and I offer my condolences to all of his loved ones.”
Gary Skelton, a former colleague at ZBM, also paid tribute to Mr Sharpe.
He said on Facebook: “THAT voice … and that twinkle in the eye.
“You wore kindness like a crown. I'm so glad I got to work closely with you.”