RIO DE JANEIRO - Andy Cerota, Dominique Sachse, Keith Garvin and Rachel McNeill are in Rio to bring KPRC 2 viewers and users extensive coverage of the Summer Olympics. Check out a blog of their experiences below:
Aug. 21, 2016 - Keith Garvin
It is the final day of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio! Not only are medals being awarded but Closing Ceremony is tonight and Spring’s Simone Biles will be the flag bearer, leading the U.S into Maracana Stadium.
Speaking of Maracana! Yesterday photographer Jeovany Luna & I got the chance to watch host Brazil versus Germany in the men’s soccer gold medal match. I’ve been a big soccer fan for about 13 years now and there aren’t too many places in the world where the world’s favorite sport is loved than here in Brazil. To be inside the legendary stadium and see it filled with the national team’s yellow jerseys was amazing! And to top it off, the match went into two extra periods and ended with Brazil winning 5-4 on penalty kicks. If you’re going to see a game in Maracana, watching two of the world’s soccer powers battle it out to the last kick is the way to go!
In the meantime, the Channel 2 crew here in Rio s not only preparing for our last days of Olympic coverage today, we are already packing to prepare for our departure tomorrow. The State Department sent us a advisory to let us know tomorrow is expected to be the busiest day in the history of Rio’s airport so we need to plan to arrive SIX HOURS before our flight. Rio has even declared tomorrow a citywide holiday to ease traffic congestion near the airport. Wish us luck!
Aug. 19, 2016 - Andy Cerota
Aug. 18, 2016 - Keith Garvin
Hard to believe that there are only 3 more days of competition at the Summer Olympic Games! I arrived about 10 days after my other KPRC colleagues so it’s gone quicker for me than the rest of them. But we have certainly ad our hands full!
First, the Ryan Lochte story unfortunately has captured the attention of not only Olympic Park but of much of the world. It now appears that the story of Lochte & 3 other swimmers being robbed at gunpoint was partially false, which I guess makes it simply false.
But there is some good news to report, especially for the Houston area. Kerron Clement of La Porte won a gold medal in the 400 meter hurdles today in grand fashion. It was his 3 Olympic medal. When he’s not running he is an actor and model and even appeared in Beyonce’s “Girls (Run the World)” video. Kerron Clement has a very bright future ahead of him and seems to have a great head on his shoulders.
Today was an extra special treat for me. I had the chance to attend the USA Men’s Basketball team practice and got to interview Houston DeAndre Jordan. He’s very proud of his Third Ward roots and is happy to represent his hometown.
Tomorrow I’ll be up bright & early to watch Sugar Land’s Steven Lopez in his first taekwondo match in his attempt to win his 4th Olympic medal so boa noite from Rio!
Aug. 18, 2016 - Andy Cerota
I am an explorer by nature. The other day when we, myself and photographer Byron Nichols, were at Barra beach, something caught my eye.
It was a giant rock formation separating Recreio beach from neighboring Macumba beach.
As Byron & I walked down the promenade toward it, I turned to him and said I’m going to climb that thing. The weather was not ideal last Friday. It was cool, very windy and the water was choppy and the surf was rough so there was no way I was going to be able to walk across the narrow sandbar in those treacherous conditions. It was tempting but I knew that day was not the day to do it.
Yesterday, the opportunity presented itself and I was not about to pass it up. The weather here in Rio can change on a dime but it was absolutely perfect and hot, not a cloud in the sky close to 95 degrees and no humidity. At this point, I hadn’t bothered to look up the name of the rock but I was going to climb it,that much I knew. It was less than a 10 minute cab ride from the Olympic media village to the beach and my destination. Once we got there, getting across the ankle deep water on top of the sandbar was, thankfully, easier than it looked. It was all about timing. Because of where the rock is situated, you’re talking about dealing with ocean currents from two different directions. Those currents produce some decent waves, big enough for the kids to get on their wakeboards to surf. We made it to the base of the rock without any issues and so in a matter of minutes, up and away we went.
Brian Curtis, an anchor with NBC 5 in Dallas, accompanied me on my adventure. There were some slippery spots and while the trek up the rock was challenging and proved to be a serious workout, at least the path was somewhat marked so we knew which way to hike. After a relatively quick climb, we reached a point where the only way up was to grab onto a rope and pull ourselves up. I gave it a few quick jerks just make sure it was anchored tight though I had no idea what it was tied to because the incline was so steep, I couldn’t see that far ahead. Once I pulled myself up, I quickly realized the rope was tied tightly around a rock. It was nice and snug, thank goodness. We maneuvered our way through some very large cracks separating a couple of boulders and suddenly, the summit was in sight. We hiked a bit further and finally hit the top. You could see straight to tomorrow from the summit. Sweeping 360 degrees of Rio. It was, in one word, breathtaking. If you get a chance, please visit my KPRC2 Andy Cerota Facebook page and check out my Facebook Live. I also posted some pictures on my Andy Cerota Facebook page. It’ll give you an idea of what we experienced. I was blown away by the sheer awesomeness of it all.
I later discovered the name of this gem. Pedra Do Pontal, that’s Pontal Rock in English. If you’re ever in Rio, put it on your list. It is a must see and a must do in terms of the hike.
Today, it was all about our local athletes. We were up and at em’, out the door by 8am. We wanted to give ourselves enough time to make it the Olympic Stadium to see Inika McPherson in the Women’s High Jump, which started at 10am Rio time. We also wanted to be at track & field to see La Porte’s Kerron Clement compete in the final for the men’s 400 meter hurdles at noon Rio time. Long story short, they both put out stellar performances. McPherson qualified for the finals, which are Saturday night. Clement brought home the gold in the men’s 400 meter hurdles! I had a chance to interview them separately in the mixed zone and their joy and excitement was palpable.
I rounded out this day with a visit to the arena to the U.S.A Women’s Basketball team beat France. Don’t miss my interview with Houston’s Brittney Griner, who plays for the Phoenix Mercury, right after the Olympics. I’ll have that for you on our late news.
Aug. 16, 2016 - Andy Cerota
I am sitting here at our workspace inside the International Broadcast Center. To my left, a box of tissues and to my right a bottle of sparkling water, one of many I've consumed today. I'm trying to kick this stubborn head cold. Dag nabit! I hate being sick and being out of town on assignment certainly adds a different dynamic. But hey, misery loves company. So many reporters and photojournalists working out of this newsroom, too many to count, have come down with what's been dubbed "the crud." It just comes with the territory of working incredibly long hours with little sleep. It's all part of the job. We're all just powering through so we can to continue delivering superior Olympics coverage with an emphasis on our local athletes. Double espresso shots from the commissary help and, oh, so does the Advil. That is not a shameless plug.
None of us can afford to be sick. There are too many events for us to still cover. Track & Field is now front and center here in Rio. There are so many great stories left to be told. Too many athletes to talk to about their triumphs and disappointments. As I sit here, typing my thoughts away in this blog post, that has been the most rewarding part about this assignment. Getting to know our hometown athletes and their families and being able to share in their journeys from the beginning to the very end. I've interviewed Olympic gold medalist Simon Biles, twice. I also talked to WNBA player Brittney Griner who is from Houston, Ginny Fuchs, Captain of the USA Women's Elite Boxing team, Inika McPherson the Olympic High Jumper, Sarah Robles who won the bronze in Olympic Weightlifting and Madison Kocian just to name a few. Who can forget the family members of these remarkably talented athletes. Sharron Manuel, Eddie Adams, Ron Biles, the list goes on. I have such respect for each and every one as they've entrusted me to share in their journey and tell their stories to everyone back home. I always ask them, What do they want to say to the people back home who've supported and cheered them on? There is an unmistakable glimmer in their eye as they express how overwhelmed they are with gratitude. That my friends, is what it's all about.
Alright, time to put this blog to bed.
Aug. 15, 2016 - Keith Garvin
It’s hard to believe, but we are halfway through the 2016 Summer Olympic Games!
It’s awesome to be in Rio de Janeiro covering the event as a journalist, but I have to say as a sports fan and lover of culture it’s a special treat for me to be here and see athletes, journalists, and spectators from around the world in one place celebrating something so special.
The weather today was a little indecisive.
When I woke up, we had warm temps & clear blue skies, but around 3 p.m. Rio time after I conducted an interview with a Houston gold medalist, a storm blew in, dropped the temps, and brought rain.
We went from the 90s to the 70s in less than an hour!
That was actually a good thing for the athletes who compete outdoors as the 90-degree temps are pretty tough to perform in.
It’s also great to see so many Houston-area & Texas athletes competing hard and representing us well.
Aug. 14, 2016 - Andy Cerota
It's Sunday Funday here in Rio! You know I'm kidding, right? As I look around the Rio NBC newsroom, I think I'm the only journalist who, at least for this is moment, is not staring intently at my computer screen. This place, like all newsrooms across the world, is a 24-hour operation. The activity level in here Sunday has been dialed back somewhat, compared to what I've experienced over the past couple of weeks. Trust me, I'm not complaining. I'm just making an observation about the change in pace. As a journalist, it's not every day you get to share the same newsroom with Lester Holt, anchor of NBC Nightly News. I'm a huge admirer of his work and asked him to take a picture. Great guy.
From a local coverage perspective, today is all about Simone Biles. The women's gymnastics vault final airs in primetime tonight but it actually started right before 3pm Rio time. Sorry folks, if you're looking for spoilers, you won't find them here. I wanted to be there to see her in action for her third attempt at bringing home the gold. I also wanted to make sure I had a chance to fire off a few questions at her in the media mix zone after event. What's the mix zone? It’'s the Olympics version of the red carpet at the Oscars. The seats set aside for the media were decent. That's all I'm going to say about it.
My Sunday caps off a great weekend. Friday, photojournalist Byron Nichols and I explored a new beach area of Rio, Barra and Macumba beach. I will post some pictures soon. There were lots of surfers, plenty of locals, few tourists; a very cool vibe. Much of the area is closed to vehicle traffic because of the Olympics. It was a cool, breezy day but who cares. What's not to love It's the beach! I will definitely pay that area a visit again before our assignment is wrapped up here in Rio. Next time, I'll run on the beach or at least along the promenade.
Byron and I also met up with some of our fellow journalists at the Olympic media village after dinner last night. Our workspace is here at the IBC but we have to walk about 20 minutes every day, each way to our live shot location. As reporters, we take turns doing live shots for our individual station. The quarters are extremely tight so you make friends quickly. In fact, after two weeks, we're all like family. It's a roving cast of talent, so the baton, or in our cases the microphone and IFB box, are constantly being passed from one on-air talent to the next. There is definitely a rhythm and a dance to it. Keep in mind, there's not a lot of wiggle room with these "windows" or time slots our stations book so that we can broadcast our live coverage. The worst is when you're still live on the air with your story and you start bleeding into the next television station's slot. Not good. Everyone is a professional so we haven't had any hiccups. Geez, I hope I didn't jinx it!
I'm going to grab myself a bite to eat at the Commissary and get cracking on tonight's 11pm live coverage, that's 1am Rio time. Enjoy the Olympics. See you after the games.
Aug. 13, 2016 - Keith Garvin
It’s been another amazing day here in Rio!
First off, the weather was absolutely amazing with crystal blue clear skies and temps in the mid-80’s! And it’s been another action-packed day in all of the events of course. The Woodlands Kassidy Cook will not be moving on in the 3 meter dive but she gave a wonderful performance today and should be very proud of herself. She’s not leaving Rio yet though. She was named as a reserve for that event.
In the meantime, Sugar Land’s Simone Manuel will be swimming for another gold medal tonight in the women’s 50 meter freestyle. That race is scheduled for 10:00 Rio time, with what may be the very last race ever for Michael Phelps taking place in the same pool an hour later. After my live shot for the 6pm newscast for KPRC we are headed to the Aquatic Center to watch both races!
Aug. 13, 2016 - Andy Cerota
I bet you thought I forgot about all of you? Not a chance. It's been a couple of days since my last entry. We got so busy with our coverage. Now I'm sitting here at our workspace at the International Broadcast Center wrapping up my story for our Saturday evening newscast, which gives me a chance to play catch-up. Make sure you tune in and watch my colleague Keith Garvin. He will be anchoring our live coverage from Rio at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m.
Thursday night, I was joined by three of my colleagues as we witnessed history together. We watched Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte compete, and we saw our Simone Manuel win the gold in the 100 meter freestyle and set an Olympic record. I'll never forget that moment, watching her as she leaned her face into her hand and cried the instant she realized she won the gold. I also had my eyes on her mom, Sharron. Even though there was quite a bit of distance between our seats and hers, there was no mistaking the tears of joy running down her face.
Along with Simone Biles and her victory, this was our big story of the night here in Rio. Keith Garvin and I were all over it. We tagged teamed this one. He immediately went down to the mix zone where the athletes are brought for interviews and I immediately got on the horn with her mom, Sharron. I had interviewed the day before after Simone qualified for the final. She was gracious and kind enough to meet us for a quick interview. Say what you will or call it a knee jerk reaction, but when I saw Sharron Manuel I immediately gave her hug and told her congratulations. It just seemed appropriate for such a joyous occasion.
I am so proud of how well our news team worked together, both here on the ground in Rio and back at the TV station in Houston and how we approached our coverage of that history making moment. It all came together. Again, I go back to defining moments. This was another one for the books while on assignment. While I was watching history in the making, I didn't feel like a journalist, I felt like the rest of the spectators inside the stadium and all of you at home. I was on the edge of my seat, savoring the moment of everything that is the Olympic experience.
I was fortunate that my day ended a lot better than how it began. If you "like" my KPRC2 Andy Cerota Facebook page and have been following me on our adventures in Rio then you know what happened to me and photojournalist Byron Nichols. It's actually quite hysterical. It was while it was happening and it still is as I sit here and write about it today. For those of you who haven't heard, here it is in a nutshell:
We had every intention of taking the bus over to the Olympic Athletes Village for a tour and to make that our story of the day. Long story short, we got on the wrong bus and ended up at Barra Beach, nowhere near the village. Our driver only spoke Portuguese so that made things interesting. So what did I do while this was happening? I got on Facebook Live! Do me a favor, if you're interested and want to see a play by play of how the situation unfolded, head over to my Facebook page, KPRC2 Andy Cerota and watch it. I think the video is about 8 minutes long. Spoiler alert: Byron and I eventually made it to our destination.
Byron and I were back out at the athletes village today after our morning live shots. We are working on a feature piece about Inika McPherson. The Port Arthur native and Olympic high jumper is ready to bring home the gold! I'm going to post a short video I shot with my smart phone of our interview on my Facebook page so you can check it out before our story airs this evening.
I'm going to wrap things up and take in an event this afternoon. The Woodlands' Kassidy Cook is diving in the 3m Springboard semifinals!
Aug. 10, 2016 - Andy Cerota
Yes, we’re in Rio covering the Summer Olympics, but today I was reminded we are in the heart of winter here in Brazil.
It was cool, damp, windy and just downright dreary, but I certainly didn’t let that dampen my spirits.
Nor did it seem to dampen the spirits of our Texas athletes who continue to make the Lone Star state proud!
Take Sugar Land native Simone Manuel. Tonight, I was watching on TV as she finished 1st in her semifinal of the women’s 100 meter freestyle!
Way to go Simone!
It’s been so gratifying to see so many of our Houston-area athletes compete in Rio and getting to know many of their families.
Simone’s final race is tomorrow.
I had the chance to talk to her mom this afternoon after this morning’s swim that got her into the semifinal. She has been with her daughter throughout this entire experience and the advice she had for her daughter just speaks to what these competitions are for these athletes who’ve come to Rio from across the globe to shine on the world stage.
It’s a journey and Sharron Manuel says no matter what, she always makes it a point to remind her daughter about the importance and significance of taking it one race at a time.
The baton was officially handed over today. Dominique headed back to Houston this evening and our colleague, anchor Keith Garvin has joined us for our live coverage. We will be doing our first live shot together tonight at 11 p.m. Houston time wrapping up tonight’s primetime Olympic events.
Aug. 10, 2016 - Keith Garvin
Haven’t had a full day in Rio but it has been action packed.
Don’t pay attention to any doctored up photos that appear to show me sleeping, lol!
Houston-area athletes continue to impress with swimmer Simone Manuel finishing first in her heat in the women’s 100m freestyle. She has earned her way to the finals tomorrow night!
I didn’t get a chance to see much of Rio today, other than the 40-minute ride from the airport to my hotel inside Olympic Park.
Today was a day to get my bearings and figure out where the workspace, food, & restrooms were. I look forward to my first full day tomorrow.
Aug. 10, 2016 - Keith Garvin
I made it!
I'm finally in Rio to help KPRC2 cover the 2016 Summer Olympic Games!
Friends, neighbors & viewers have been saying to me the past few days, "Hey I thought you were going to Rio!"
Well, we staggered the coverage for my amazing colleague Dominique Sachse & myself. I arrived this morning. She is leaving tonight after 7 days of great coverage.
Rachel McNeill and Andy Cerota remain, along with 3 of our fabulous photographers (and all of our photographers are fabulous) Byron Nichols, Damon Sales & Jeovany Luna.
I've already had the opportunity to watch my first event (women's swimming), and I've conducted my first interview with Sugar Land's Simone Manuel after she finished first in her heat in the 100M freestyle.
I cannot tell you how amazing it is to get to cover the Olympics!
I've had a lot of big assignments over the years, but this is the first opportunity I've had to cover the Games.
There's an electricity to this event, but also an elegance and I hope I can capture both in my reporting.
Aug. 10, 2016 - Dominique Sachse
It's the strangest thing.
I thought I'd be jumping through Olympic hoops on my last day, knowing my work is behind me and looking forward to seeing my family again.
The later is true, I'm beyond excited see them, but I have a sense of melancholy leaving my crew and this place.
After having been here a week, I feel I've gotten my groove on, as was clearly captured in yesterday's Boomerang video :) We've gelled.
There's professional respect, and yet we get each other's jokes. It's the kind of teamwork you hope for, and I feel like we each held our own in this medley.
I don't have much time to wax poetic, since I have a shuttle to catch to the airport in two hours and luggage to pack, but I'm going to miss these guys, miss our coverage and miss the camaraderie.
Thanks Jeovany, Byron, Andy, Rachel, Damon and Keith.
It's been real....
Aug. 9, 2016 - Andy Cerota
More on that in just a moment. Let’s get to the good stuff. Right now, Byron, Dominique, Jeovany and myself are sitting at our workspace in the IBC watching the men’s 4x200 Men’s Freestyle Relay. What a finish! Ryan Lochte, Michael Phelps. Look at Phelps working the crowd from the pool. The whole IBC newsroom, which is filled with NBC journalists from across the country, erupted in one collective cheer!
The excitement and the community, it truly is the heart of what the Olympics are about. NBC just switched back to the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team, but I’m not going to let that distract me from finishing this blog entry. We spent the afternoon trekking across the Olympic Park. I already had one piece of content set up and ready to go. The family members of one of our hometown athletes, Olympic swimmer and Cy Woods grad Cammile Adams, were good and ready to sit down for an interview today.
What an exciting day for Cammile and her family. She finished first in her heat of the 200-meter butterfly. We also ended up talking to Olympic spectators from other countries who are fascinated with Simone Biles. The piece ended up coming together very nicely. We ended up talking to a brother and sister from France who are two of her biggest fans. No joke. I explained to them why I wanted to talk to them and their faces both lit up once I uttered the words Simone Biles. They really added a different perspective to the Simone Biles phenomenon.
Alright, it’s one hour until my last two live shots for the night. I need to wrap this up, finish watching gymnastics and then high tail it over to our live shot location with rest of the team so we can bring you complete live coverage of all the big highlights from tonight’s NBC’s prime time coverage of the Rio Olympics. We will see you on the air at 1 a.m. Rio Time! Tonight, we will also bid Dominique farewell. She is headed back to Houston tomorrow. She will pass the baton onto our colleague Keith Garvin who is on flight right now, on his way to Rio!
Aug. 8, 2016 - Andy Cerota
I’m starting to get the feel of the rhythm of this whole Rio Olympics operation. Hard to believe I’ve been here now for a week though it’s only day three of the competitions.
Our big get today was with Chris Brooks of the US Men’s Gymnastics team. It wasn’t their best performance, but fans say they gave quite a show on the mat tonight.
It didn’t take us long to find a Houston connection to the fans once we started trekking around Olympic park. I stood outside the venue with my photojournalist, and I kid you not, I started shouting Team USA! Anyone from Houston! How about Texas!
Look, I make no bones about it. I’m here to tell the stories of Houstonians and I’m trying to keep our content Houston-centric so as a reporter, my options are limited.
I ended up talking to a woman from College Station. The first words out of her mouth, Gig em! She was fantastic and was just so excited to be in Rio to cheer on the team.
I also talked to a guy from The Woodlands who was just as excited and eager to see the men’s gymnastics team in action inside the Rio Olympic Arena. The team went into tonight’s competition second in the qualification, right behind China but finished fifth tonight with their heads held high.
Tomorrow is a big day for the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team.Simone Biles leads team in hopes of getting back to back women’s team titles. We will also be keeping an eye on Carli Llyod of the Houston Dash. She is back at it again with the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team. The team takes on Colombia in a stadium a few hours away from Rio in Manaus.
Aug. 8, 2016 - Dominique Sachse
Queue: waiting in line. It's how we non-athletes compete here at the Olympic games. There's the line through security, the line to get into venues, the line for food and drink, the line for the toilettes. I learned a lot in line Sunday. I had the opportunity to interview Simone Biles' family waiting in line. Could this be? The parents of one of the most celebrated Olympians at the games this go around waiting in line? They weren't the only ones.
Gabby Douglas' family was right there next to them. They had already been in line for an hour and a half. Security then let everyone through, only to pool the crowd in another area to wait in yet another line. Fascinating. We talked. I chatted with Simone's Mom, Dad, sister, brothers, wives, etc. I learned that everyone came to the Olympics on their own dime. One brother saved up for two years to be able to come here. Nothing comped, no freebies. They even paid for their seats, although it's made certain that they're not up in the nose bleed section. Mind you, media cameras must have a clear shot for "mom and dad reactions." Even with all the paying, all the waiting, they couldn't have been happier or more proud. Their daughter lit up our screens Sunday with a stellar performance!
My next line experience was to get something to eat before my live shot at 6 p.m. I was starving, and anything would do. In the middle of Olympic Park is this massive open space with food vendors, a Rio 2016 store and interesting Olympic sculptures for family photos. I found a little food mart by the loo, where I also had to go. The food mart line was shorter than the rest so I was OK with that. Thirty minutes later I made it inside only to see that a majority of the limited food items have already been lifted off the shelves. I grabbed some type of a veggie sandwich, bag of popcorn and bottled water only to stand in another line to check out.
When I got there, I found out they only took Visa, which thankfully I had, since the station issued us all Visa cards (with a limit!) before we left. Well, here, they require a pin, even on a credit purchase. I started to break out into a sweat. I had now waited about 40 minutes for this meal, only to space out on the pin. Thankfully, I had written it down in my other phone and had the presence of mind (hunger) to remember it was there. Feeling good, I grabbed what I had and marched over to our broadcast area to sit down, relax and eat. I didn't know what to expect from this veggie sandwich, but was struck me upon my first bite was the ice. Apparently the coolers in this little mini-mart were working overtime, and my sandwich was frozen. At least my popcorn was the appropriate temperature, so that was my meal before work. My sandwich was still to stiff before the 6pm newscast.
Good thing I have a sense of humor!
Two hours and one buffet line later at the hotel, I was well-fed and had the incredible good fortune of plopping myself down next to a lovely couple from California. He, a sportscaster on the BBC, is athletic in stature and gentle in demeanor. It wasn't until Hannah Storm, at a table to my left, asked to take a photo with him that I realized who my dinner-mates at the bar were: 4-time Gold Medal sprinter Michael Johnson from Dallas and his wife! We had a meaningful conversation about the media and our children. I thoroughly enjoyed them. Even though his wife said he's not a fan of taking photos, based on how well we all got along, I didn't feel off in asking.
After my line whine and off-temperature food (Bill Spencer where were you?!) this was the perfect ending, and now I don't have to change my name to Dominiqueue :)
Aug. 6, 2016 - Andy Cerota
I admit, I felt like fresh road kill when my alarm went off at 5:30 this morning.
Nothing a hot shower and a hot cup of coffee couldn’t cure.
We hopped on board the 6 a.m. bus at the media village and off we went to the IBC. The nice thing about have to do morning live shots in Rio is the time difference. We’re two hours ahead of Houston. We needed to be in place and ready to go by 8 a.m., or 6 a.m. Houston time. That’s when our Sunday morning broadcast goes on the air. The news Gods were on our side, because we made it to our live shot location with 10 minutes to spare! I started getting anxious the moment we pulled into the IBC parking lot. The media security line looked like the TSA security checkpoint lines at the airport on a Monday morning. Our morning live shots went off without a hitch.
After a double shot of espresso, it was time to regroup and plan for the day ahead. I’m always on the hunt for a good story and there are so many great ones to be told on this assignment in Rio, but I’m really trying to be diligent about tailoring my content to the Houston audience.
I looked at the schedule and saw the USA Women’s basketball team was playing Senegal at 10 a.m. Houston time. Houston native Brittney Griner, who plays for the Phoenix Mercury, is on the team and is a first-time Olympian. I knew I had my story for the day.
We hopped on another bus that took us to the youth center, about a 30 minute bus ride from the Olympic Park. Team USA set an Olympic scoring record, beating Senegal 121 - 56 in the team’s opening game in Rio. Brittney Griner is a force to be reckoned with on the court. Incredible! She played her heart out and it showed.
After the game it was mission accomplished. I felt like a sideline sports reporter as I stood there and got my one-on-one with her. At 6 feet, 8 inches tall, Griner towered over me and she was more than happy to chat with me about the team’s big win.
She also had a message for her fans back in H-town. You’ll have to watch my story on KPRC Channel 2 News at 5 p.m. to see what it is.
Aug. 6, 2016 - Dominique Sachse
Considering that technically the day starts at midnight, I have so much good content before 4:30 a.m. First of all, there's a two-hour time difference between Houston and Rio. With the Opening Ceremony Friday night, we all knew our news would air late, but for us, it meant a 1:25 a.m. start time. That starts to become challenging when your body's impulses are to shut down, and you're arguing with it because you have copy to memorize and spit out like you've just had 10 cups of coffee. It was an internal battle where sheer will and a self-protective mechanism to prevent embarrassment kicked in. We made it through and then had our usual 1-mile walk back to collect our personal affects and head to the hotel.
I was dreaming of that kind of sleep where you don't remember when your head hit the pillow, but that wasn't in the cards for me. It's now 3:15 a.m. I'm in bed, and all I can think about are my aching feet and sore back from carrying around a loaded backpack for miles. I have such respect for our photographers. They lug gear around all day and all night, don't complain, and still manage to fall asleep. I'm not one of them. I'm used to feet hurting from too high or too narrow heels, a back hurting from working out harder than usual in the gym, but these aches are different, and they threw me off. So after a mental tug of war, begging and pleading my body and mind to shut 'er down and let go, that final release happened at 4:30 a.m.
Have you ever awakened in a panic, where you felt like you missed something important, somewhere you had to be? Well that was me at 1 p.m. today. I grabbed my phones, made sure I was still employed at Ch. 2, checked the news to see if the world was okay, and then took my first breath. two cappuccinos and a relatively healthy salad later, we hit the ground running to get some sound from people in Olympic Park and hopefully run into some Houstonians, which I likened to the proverbial needle in a haystack.
"Hi, we're from Dallas and Houston!" You've got to be kidding me. After an array of interviews with people from all over, and halfway back to the IBC, we hit a pack of Texans. You can spot them anywhere. Tall, proud, wearing USA gear and eager to talk. Two from Houston, two from Dallas (we forgive you). I was thrilled to see our hometown folks representing in Rio. The station was happy. I was even happier.
So the competitions have begun. Athleticism is at its finest. There are heroes in the midst. Looking forward to the stories that surface, the athletes who do the unthinkable and the spectators who watch the replays in awe. The Olympic rings do unify us that way.
Aug. 6, 2016 - Andy Cerota
After burning the midnight oil Friday night -- more like the 2 a.m. oil -- we were back at it Saturday morning when sporting events officially got underway. I was finally able to score an interview that I've been trying to set up all week.
We took the bus from the International Broadcast Center to the boxing pavilion to meet Ginny Fuchs, Team USA Captain for the Women's Elite Boxing Team. The bus ride was short, but traffic was horrendous, and the heavier security and military presence is what struck me the most during our trip.
There were armed soldiers and armored military vehicles stationed in several places along the route, especially in front of and near the athlete village. This was in stark contrast to what I saw on Thursday during our ride from Barra to Copacabana Beach. The massive security operation certainly speaks to the level of concern toward making sure the half million visitors and thousands of athletes are safe throughout the course of the games. It wasn't unsettling at all. If anything, it was comforting and it didn't take away from the Olympic experience.
Meeting Ginny was hands down the highlight of my day. I had no idea she was in Rio until her dad sent me an email after one of my live reports earlier this week. He was kind enough to include her contact information and after cutting through some logistics this week, we were finally able to make the interview happen. I'm putting a story together for our Sunday morning newscast. It will air in the 6:30 a.m. half hour. I'll be anchoring part of the Sunday morning broadcast live from Rio so I hope you'll tune in. I'm not going to give too much away but I will tell you she is focused, determined and is proud to represent Houston. She will likely be a household name someday in the boxing world.
Alright, time to wrap this up and get back to working on our coverage for Saturday evening's 6 p.m. broadcast. We're putting our content and elements together right now then it's off to bed!
Aug. 5, 2016 - By Dominique Sachse
Once I cleared the cobwebs out of my eyes, after a coma-induced 9-hour sleep, I opened my hotel curtain to discover the most glorious day in front of me: they sky a perfect cobalt blue, air looking drier than I had seen and flashes of a swimming pool on the 2nd floor danced in my head.
I ordered coffee to the room, and 45 minutes later, it still hadn’t arrived. I can’t fault them. The flood of media on the first-floor lobby and dining area looks like a mad school of fish, darting and dancing to eat and run.
So, I left and went poolside. It was pleasant and breezy, with only one gentleman there on his cell phone. I caught 30 minutes of much-needed sunshine, my Vitamin D for the day. However, I can’t have a morning without coffee, so in my bathing suit cover-up and sandals, I made a bee-line to the lobby, only to have the elevator doors open to a nice gentleman holding my coffee. Timing is everything.
Decked out in my red, white and blue for the opening ceremony, my photographer, Jeovany and I head out. Before we go through security to enter Olympic property, we see a flurry of people bent over what look like pins. Sure enough, there were people from the States, Canada and elsewhere taking part in the pin trade here. Can’t buy, can’t sell, only barter. I had nothing. I looked in envy, eyeing Christ the Redeemer with Olympic rings around him. Apparently, that’s THE pin! I also hear Olympic Pokemon is big time, too. Anyway, seeing a story in the making, Jeovany and I started to roll tape. That aired today on Ch. 2’s 6 p.m. newscast.
So now, I sit in the media hub, with my bud Andy Cerota. We’ve been live together today for most of the shows, handing off to each other, just like the relay here at the Olympics.
Pomp, circumstance and pageantry. The opening ceremony was a spectacle. No, I’m not there. I’m in the IBC (International Broadcast Center) watching it on a TV monitor, working on the late newscast and writing this blog. Being a journalist is not glamorous. It’s a job, but one that I love.
I’m a sucker for Brazilian music. I usually have it piped in throughout my house. I adore Bossa Nova. Naturally, the music and dance in the opening ceremony spoke to me. Although I feel like a caged in this erected Olympic village, sterile by Brazil’s standards, disconnected from the Rio that I’ve seen on a postcard, I felt closer to her in the opening ceremony. I’m hoping to break out sometime this weekend with my photographer, Jeovany, who knows some Portuguese, so I can make it to Copacabana beach. I can’t come this far not to go.
Aug. 5, 2016 - By Andy Cerota
I have finally come back up for air! I’m so excited to get back to blogging. It’s been a couple of days since my last entry, so now I can bring you up to speed in terms of what I’ve been up to the past 48 hours.
It’s been wonderful.Just know that.I had the day off yesterday, and I certainly made the most of it.
So Byron, the photojournalist who I’m working with, hopped on a bus to the IBC so we could catch an NBC shuttle to Copacabana beach. We wanted to just get out and get away from the media zones where we’ve been spending most of our time and experience the vibe and flavor of Rio right before the opening ceremony.
The weather couldn’t have been more perfect. The sun was back out and it was a little on the cool side but trust me, it beats a Houston summer day in August! We arrived to one giant party atmosphere. Copacabana’s promenade was jam packed with locals and tourists, musicians, artists and vendors.
There was a feeling of magic in the air and it was incredible to feel that and be a part of something so tremendous. Our first order of business was lunch.
Two working journalists have to eat in order to keep up our strength. We found this great Brazilian steakhouse at the very end of Copacabana beach right across the street from the set of the Today show.
It’s a good thing I brought my hearty appetite. This restaurant had a fresh seafood buffet that stretched basically the entire length of the restaurant. Shrimp, octopus, squid, clams, crab, you name it and it was right there for the taking.
Our waiters were friendly and engaging and took great care of us. They served us steak for days along with lobster tails, rock lobster and fish from the Amazon river.
What better way to work off that food than a game of ball on the beach with a group of complete strangers?
A group of young Brazilians invited me to play ball with them and it was awesome. I had the time of my life! It was definitely a defining moment for me on this assignment. I say that because here I am, on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, hanging out with a group of strangers who don’t speak my language, sharing and enjoying this experience together.
Of course, Byron was there to capture it all on camera so you’ll get a chance to see my moves and see me in action on KPRC Channel 2 news. We finished out the afternoon watching a group of Korean drummers performing. You’re reading this correctly, Korean drummers in Brazil. That’s what’s so amazing about Rio. Like Houston, it is a world class city rich in diversity.
Now it’s time to get ready for the opening ceremony! I woke feeling refreshed and went on a three mile run around the Olympic media village. The weather was superb for a run. Clear blue skies and a little crisp. It put in a great mindset for the day. Once we got to the International Broadcast Center it was time to get down to business. It’s been so helpful having our own workspace where we can spread out all of gear and equipment and keep at one central location. Right now, I’m working on my stories for our 4,5 & 6 p.m. newscasts. Dominique is here with me doing the same. The anticipation is building and I’m beyond excited to see Team USA at the opening ceremony. By the way, live at 4,5 & 6 in Houston means Dominique & I will be live at 6,7, 8 AND 1 a.m. Houston time!
I’ve been sitting here with my colleagues watching the opening ceremony in awe! With more than two hundred countries, the sights, the sounds, the pageantry , the magic! It was all beyond captivating. It was everything I had hoped it would be and more. To see Michael Phelps leading the way for Team USA carrying the American flag as they marched into Maracana stadium. Wow! They looked so sharp and quite stylish in their uniforms. Their smiles and the energy they brought into the stadium was powerful. It was magnetic. Go USA!
I’ve been keeping a close eye on my twitter and Facebook feeds and I’m noticing the segment highlighting the dangers of climate change is already a huge talker on social media and is igniting a lot of strong reactions.
Watching the Olympic cauldron being lit, this is all truly hitting home for me tonight. It’s finally setting in that I am not only a witness to history I am a part of it and it’s such a privilege to be here to share the triumphs of our hometown atheltes. Our adventure here in Rio is only just beginning and I can’t wait to share this journey with all of you during my time in Brazil.
Aug. 4, 2016 - By Dominique Sachse
I always research my hotel before I go to see what kind of a gym they have. I do try to stay on track, even when I travel. Funny thing is, my gym here has only cardio equipment, no weights whatsoever. My job has me walking miles every day, from the hotel to the IBC (International Broadcast Center), from the IBC to the broadcast area, from the broadcast area back to the IBC and back again for the 10 p.m., and then back to the hotel. Journalists are wearing their fitness trackers here and blurting out how many steps they’ve taken. It’s becoming a badge of honor. Someone here is going to medal in walking. My trials were today..
Speaking of hotels, I had the most surreal experience. I was in the lobby near the check in area buying a bottled water, when one of the gals behind the desk gave me the biggest smile. She kept staring at me, and so to break the ice, I said “Hello, how are you?” Not a second later she blurted out, “I follow you on YouTube!” I almost dropped my water. Really, what are the odds? I should start playing the lottery. She couldn’t have been sweeter, and I’m sure she saw that selfie we took on my KPRC Facebook page. Hi Silvia!
So, today was my first real day here in Olympic village as a working journalist. Some new places opened up near the IBC which we featured in the 5 p.m. newscast on Thursday. There’s a gift store, a mini mart, a laundry mat, a post office and a place for massages. Hello!! I popped in for 5 minutes, just long enough for a freebie and some good video to pretend like I’m actually having a relaxing moment. There will be time for that back home.
Meanwhile, opening ceremonies are almost here. Some people have asked where I’ll be sitting. I have to hold back my urge to let out a sarcastic snort, while I then explain the journalists’ creed. You’ll find us camping out in massive media rooms, with cables and computers strewn about, cranking out stories at warp speed and watching this huge event on 16” TV’s. We’re a special breed. Not many would do it, and yet some of us live for it.
Good night from Rio..
Aug. 3, 2016 - By Dominique Sachse
There is nothing like getting squeezed, kissed and hugged by children who love you, all prompted by the separation anxiety we were starting to feel. The morning was rushed with errands, last-minute packing and a quick jump in the pool to show them I was still in the game. My family is my fuel, and boy did they power me.
There was heavy police presence at the airport. It hit me when I saw athlete after athlete standing in the security line, one taller and more physically defined than the other. They shared a similar look, one of being on top of their game, yet in awe of the moment.
They were chatty. I had no problem initiating conversations, with an ease that followed. One of them actually asked me what event I was competing in! I almost said the “menopause marathon,” but I bit my tongue. That might go down as one the best compliments ever.
A plane ride unlike any other. Cameras clicked at warp speed of athletes taking pictures with athletes, flight attendants and captains. I didn’t get the upgrade I had prayed for, so a flight attendant helped numb my pain by offering me some mini Chardonnay bottles. That wine-induced confidence must have had something to do with me walking up to Serena and Venus Williams, wishing them luck (as if they need it) and taking a selfie. It seems many of you hit “like” on that one. I sat down right behind them, behind that wall that separates the horizontal from vertical in terms of who’s going to sleep or not. Let’s just say, it was a long flight for me.
I shouldn’t say this, because it wasn’t the case for my colleagues, but it was a breeze getting through Rio’s airport! Ten hours of sitting led to a record pace of mine heading over to the credential and baggage claim area. Ok, so Olympic high jumper Chaunte Lowe was setting that pace in front of me, but I kept up! She turned out to be a highlight. I studied her on the plane, same row, just the opposite side. A runner’s body, finely-tuned perfection, and she stretched and moved it throughout the flight like a gazelle. I couldn’t help staring. I wish I could run. My knees won’t allow it, but I can power walk like it’s nobody’s business. We wound up getting our credentials together, and she acted like she knew me. I like that openness in people. It was a warm welcome to Rio.
So, here I sit in my hotel’s lobby, eating my first real meal, before my first real nap, before I hit the ground running so to speak. I’ll see you on the 10 p.m. news tonight. I hope you enjoy what we bring you from the Olympics. You can bet the KPRC crew will be hard at work, finding interesting stories to tell, all in our own unique way.
Aug. 2, 2016 - By Andy Cerota
Day two in Rio is almost in the books.
It’s funny, because this is my third trip to Rio since last August but the dynamics this time around are completely different environment.
We are in a very controlled environment, where as the past two times we were here there weren’t any “zones” and we could move about the city from place to place with security knowing that we were safe.
Everything that we’re going to do during the Olympics will be done in the various Olympic zones, mind you these zones are quite large, but again adding a 500,000 visitors and thousands of athletes to the mix is a real game changer.
From this day, forward I have to be extra diligent in terms of planning out the day: where we’re going, what stories and elements we’ll be able to gather.
We have to take into account the logistics and the added time it takes to get bused from our accommodations to the Olympic Village and some of the other zones we plan on visiting like Copacabana Beach.
You can feel the extra security presence. Yesterday, we waited just a few minutes in line to get through the security checkpoint at the International Broadcast Center. Today, it took us a good 30-35 minutes to get through the whole process.
This afternoon, we toured the heart of the Olympic Park and got to see some of the venues. The energy here is ramping up.
I’ve already begun to put out some feelers in terms of looking ahead to stories that I want to cover here in the coming weeks.
I hope to connect with a lot of the Houston area athletes' families who will soon be arriving.
We have a solid team on the ground.
You have to work smart in these situations and our team has risen to the challenge.
Aug. 1, 2016 - By Andy Cerota
Boy, where do I even begin. My head is still spinning. Is it A: We’re actually here in Rio to witness and cover something so spectacular I can’t even wrap my mind around it? Or is it B: I’m beyond tired?
OK, I digress. It’s a little bit of both. I feel like we haven’t stopped since 6:30 p.m. Sunday. That’s when a car service picked Rachel McNeill and I up at the KPRC studios to take us to the airport. Thankfully, the plane ride was smooth. No hiccups and I managed to get a few hours of shuteye. I’m definitely a sleeper on planes. We landed in Rio around 9:30 a.m. local time and I will tell you, we hit the ground running. We arrived safe and sound along with all of our luggage and equipment. That’s definitely a win for us. There were no surprises.
We knew going into this it would take us a couple of hours to cut through all the typical red tape at the airport.
Our first mission was to get over to the International Broadcasting Center as quickly as possible but first things first. We took a van to the Olympic Media Village, our home for the next three weeks. Check-in ran smoothly and the staff was friendly and extremely helpful. Our accommodations are small but tidy. It’s basically a tiny three-bedroom apartment with three small bathrooms. Byron, my photographer, and I apparently have a roommate but we have not met this person yet. There’s really nowhere for me to put my clothes so it looks like I will literally be living out of my suitcases for the next three weeks.
Once we got to the IBC, it took us a while to get our bearings straight in terms of the logistics. We got settled into our NBC work space and had the chance to meet a lot of the support staff.
While it felt like a three-ring circus at times, I know in my head this is just the calm before the storm. Let the games begin!