Sean Cardovillis wasn’t your ordinary sports journalist. His command of sport, commitment, passion, zeal and attention to detail was certainly second to none.
Having known him from his launch into the profession, I never had reason to doubt his professionalism.
Just recently, in the build-up to the 2023 Safari Rally, global organisers of the World Rally Championship (WRC) series were mulling over who would play Master of Ceremonies at the Nairobi start and Naivasha finish of the Kenyan round.
Becs Williams’ name was floated, but the talented British lead commentator for WRC+ All Live television was swamped, and so WRC Promoter and FIA (International Automobile Federation) communications officials kept scratching their heads.
“Hang on! But we have Sean Cardovillis!,” I prompted, and immediately put Sean through on speaker phone to FIA Media Delegate, Nick Garton.
And, voila!, a solution was found. As usual, Sean didn’t disappoint, his vast knowledge of motorsport, the WRC and all its drivers holding him in good stead in his impeccable delivery of the 2023 Safari Rally’s pre and post hype.
I worked with Sean for over two decades and knew him as an astute, committed and honest sports journalist, and an exceptionally talented broadcaster.
During his two stints at the Nation Media Group (between 2014 and 2020), he was meticulous to a fault, and never bore any grudges or burnt any bridges.
As a staunch Arsenal supporter, his banter with us, Manchester United die-hards, was friendly and based on fact. How I wish he could live to see the ‘Gunners’ finally lift the Premiership trophy last seen at the Emirates (sorry, at Highbury) via Patrick Vieira and the “Invincibles” when Sean was a bubbly 30-year-old Capital FM rookie.
His contribution to Kenyan sports journalism was immense, and the motorsport world, in particular, will miss his commitment to the sport.
Sean raised the bar in sports journalism and broadcasting, and has left an indelible mark in our profession.
A go-getter, I recall his drive to be at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, digging deep into his pockets to eke out personal resources for a return trip.
Such was his commitment, a dedication mirrored in the messages of tribute (below) from the highest offices, and from colleagues, following his shock demise last weekend in Nairobi:
President William Ruto:
“Saddened by the passing of a brilliant and outstanding sports broadcaster Sean Cardovillis. He was a cool, insightful and gifted journalist who played an integral role on our radio stations.
We will miss his clear and concise voice, passion and upbeat personality.
Our prayers are with his family and media fraternity at this painful time.
Rest in Peace, Sean.”
Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua:
“Saddened by the untimely death of renowned sports journalist Sean Cardovillis who passed on this morning.
His wit and wide knowledge in various sports, especially Motorsport, will be greatly missed.
My deepest sympathies to the family, friends and colleagues in media and sports fraternity for this loss.”
Sports Journalists Association of Kenya:
“Sean Cardovillis was more than just a sports commentator; he was a legend in the field, a mentor, and a dear friend to many.
His dedication to sports journalism spanned over two decades, during which he contributed significantly to the industry's growth and development in Kenya and beyond….
Sean's legacy will continue to inspire us, and his memory will live on in the stories we tell and the passion with which we approach our work.”
My heartfelt condolences go out to his family, friends and colleagues at Capital FM.
Music and Sport will certainly never be the same again, but will enjoy the rich legacy Sean bequeathed.
May Almighty God rest the soul of Sean Cardovillis — the Voice of Sport — in eternal peace.
Makori is the Lead Editor, Sports and Integration Projects, at Nation Media group. [email protected]