Rio 2016: A Front Row Seat to History in the Making

A glimpse into what it’s like reporting live from the Olympics.

I loved getting to the beach volleyball venue before the fans filed in… There was something serene about the empty massive stadium against the quiet blue sky, knowing it would soon be filled with roaring fans in Copacabana.

One of the most exciting parts of my career is getting to travel to some of the world’s largest sporting events, whether it’s baseball in Cuba, Wimbledon in London, or, most recently, the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. My time in Rio was filled with moments of awe, excitement, drama, and even sadness. I watched history being created as athletes broke new records, set precedents, and challenged the world to recognize their greatness. I was also tasked with announcing the passing of dear colleague and friend John Saunders live on the air. I experienced one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in the ever-watchful Christ the Redeemer. I tried on a gold medal — and exercised much self-discipline as I handed it back to its rightful owner!

Rio marked my fifth time covering the Olympics; I first hosted the Games in Barcelona in 1992 for NBC. With each Olympics, I have been inspired by the talent, the determination, and the sheer level of achievement demonstrated by the competitors. In that regard, Rio was no different. Simone Biles defied gravity; Michael Phelps became the most decorated Olympian of all time; Katie Ledecky imposed her will in the pool; Usain Bolt was otherworldly; Abbey D’Agostino and Nikki Hamblin embodied the meaning of sportsmanship and compassion — and those were just a fraction of the headlines.

Rio also marked the first time ESPN has done an entire SportsCenter show from the Olympic Games, and I couldn’t be more excited to help set that precedent. (My husband, Dan Hicks, was at the Games as well, covering swimming for NBC Sports, but we barely got to see each other with everything going on!) I’ve included some snapshots from my time in Rio — a glimpse into the food, the culture, the action, the adrenaline, and the joy of being a part of this remarkable event. I’m already counting down to Summer 2020 in Tokyo!

Left: Rio is full of color, street art is encouraged and found around every corner! Right: So proud of Olympic swimmer Maya DiRado, who brought home 2 gold medals (and 4 medals total) this summer!
Left: I could get used to this look… Thanks for the loaner, Conor Dwyer! Right: Couldn’t get enough of the delicious food in Rio! This is a street favorite…sweet and salty popcorn with condensed milk.