First of all, just being at the Olympic Games is a lifetime achievement!
…not just for the athletes; but for the friends, families, fans and yes, the reporters who get to tell the stories! But once I got there, I quickly realised that this experience was setting the stage for some of the most memorable moments of my life, my career and my camera roll!
Ever since I was a little girl, I could vividly remember my sister and I planted in front of the TV screen watching gymnastics, synchronized swimming and all the other colorful sports we dreamed to be a part of in our future lives. Of course not all dreams come true, but…
[bctt tweet=”Life has a funny way of tossing you the life you need and not the life you plan for” username=”iamianthia”]
Over the past two years, my work as a freelance journalist has been oh so rewarding and full of flight miles and bomb ass experiences! I never ever dreamed that my work would take me to cover an Olympic Games. Never did I imagine that I would get the opportunity to rub shoulders with the some of the world’s biggest sports stars, interview my fave sports heroes and literally sit on the track and poolside at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil!
Reporting for Duty!
From a skinny little cub reporter writing about a new block being built on a primary school to covering the Olympic Games? How Sway??!!!!
Talk about the assignment of a lifetime! I was sent to cover the Games of the 31st Olympiad and medal hunt with Team Bahamas! And guess what…we did that! One gold medal, one bronze medal and another show of pure talent for the 242!
11,303 athletes from around the world brought their hearts and spikes to Rio to partake in 306 events in 28 sporting disciplines. I spent most of my time running from the pool or the track to the Mixed Press Room where journalists huddled to grab interviews with the olympians after their competitions, and let me tell you this is the place that most of the magic happened for me. Watching Usain Bolt from the stands annihilate his competition on the track was amazing, seeing one my all time faves, Justin Gatlin in person (again) and in his element was great, being in the arena when The Bahamas’ Shaunae Miller won the gold medal in one of the most dramatic races of the games was PHENOMENAL and seeing The Bahamas’ men’s relay team capture bronze was LIT!! But oh when those athletes came through that press room and I got the chance to ask questions, have actual conversations, take selfies and just be normal…my life was made!
My Top Moments from the 2016 Olympic Games
1. The Bahamas Wins Gold!
Born. Bred. Ga dead Bahamian! The surge of Bahamian pride that rushed through my body when Shaunae Miller took the track can’t even be described. The levels of Bahamian pride that was present after her dramatic dive to gold was damn near paralysing! I screamed, I cheered, I chanted, I ran, I was the only Bahamian in the press section where I was sitting. The people around me didn’t know my name, my age, my reason for being there, but they damn sure knew I was Bahamian! I wont even lie, I thought we lost all hope when Shaunae fell at the finish line. I didn’t know what happened so I looked over at the Bahamian crew for some sort of confirmation but they too were stunned! And then something told me to turn around and look at the scoreboard and…BOOM! GOLD! She had just beat her toughest competitor of the Games, The United States’ Allyson Felix, and I went ballistic!! I quickly ran over to the Bahamian crew not so far from me and the celebration was on…national anthem and all!
2. The “Bronze Bredrens” Did That!
Yo! Team Bahamas was so lit! How does a small country of just over 350,000 people send about 32 athletes to the Olympic Games and walk away with 2 medals! When our men’s 4×4 relay team powered through that final and brought home another medal, I could’ve fainted! Like for real! They counted us out, they thought we were done, they said we didn’t have a chance! We were back to defend our gold medal win from the 2012 London Games, and although we fell a bit short in bringing home the gold again…a medal is a medal is a medal! And this is the Olympics, so being able to see that flag hoisted for a second time in one Games is truly something to celebrate. Our guys did that! They represented Team Bahamas to the fullest and delivert! Say hello to our Bronze Bredrens!
3. Fanning out with Usain Bolt
Listen to me when I tell you…Usain Bolt is so dope! He’d just won his second gold medal at this year’s Games and was walking through the press room when I stopped him for a selfie, but at the same time the women’s final of the 200m was happening and that was a race he wanted to see! A Jamaican was running so he wasn’t going anywhere until it was over. He stood right behind me and watched the race, excited, sweaty and…just a fan! It was so dope to see the biggest athlete in the world right now, fan out over another athlete. You know how sometimes you wonder how celebs do the regular things in life? Well, I can totally tick “watch a track race at the Olympics WITH the biggest track star” off my bucket list!
4. Conch and Kaliks with Gatlin
If you know me, then you know I’m a HUGE Justin Gatlin fan! I’ve been following his career for years now and forever fan out when he gets close. I thought that one time he “liked” and commented on a photo I posted of him about two years ago at the IAAF World Relays in The Bahamas would be the closest I would get to him!
BUT GOD! The first time he walked through the pressroom at the Olympics I literally froze…like an idiot! LOL! But the second, third, fourth and fifth times I saw him we were like best buds! But here’s where Justin really won me over. In an impromptu, fun and entertaining interview my team and I asked him, “When are you coming back to The Bahamas?” he then mentioned conch fritters and conch salad…I WAS FLOORED! Look at The Bahamas being all known and sh*t! I was super proud to be Bahamian in that moment and to have one of my all time fave athletes big up my country?! Was gold in itself!
5. Hair twinning with Natasha Hastings
You know when a moment is so organic and real that photographing or videotaping it isn’t even necessary? This was my experience with the beautiful American runner Natasha Hastings! The first time we bucked in the press room she looked at my hair and said, “I love your hair!” She’s rocking a colored short fro as well so I chime back, “I love your hair too!” And I swear our hair friendship was born from there. Every time she came through the press section she would yell out, “Hey hair twin!” and I’d be like, “Damn! Look at us black sistahs embracing our natural hair; bonding over curls and coils and boldly loving a part of us that the world has told us to hate!” But no ma’am! We sauntered around the Olympic stadiums like the goddesses we are…’fros and all! No photos to tell the story but trust and believe it’s real!
6. Cheering on Team Bahamas
Whenever a member of that aquamarine, gold and black squad hit the track or pools I went home hoarse…no voice, a scratchy throat and waiting to do it all over again the next day! I never knew the sheer sense of pride you’d get cheering on your country at the biggest sporting event. I told you, for years I watched the Olympics at home or at work and felt my heart beat a thousand miles per minute whenever Team Bahamas was competing, but being there, seeing that, witnessing history, reppin’ my country like my life depended on it was an absolutely amazing experience! Every single day at the games I ditched my casual clothes and threw on all things Team Bahamas; my attire was all Bahamas related because I had to let people know the 242 was in the building!
7. The closing ceremonies
The production, the theatrics, the sounds, lights, colors and cheers…the closing ceremony for the Rio Games was surely a sight to behold! I’ve never seen a live production of that magnitude before and boy was I pleasantly surprised! I’ll let the fireworks tell the rest of the story!
Whew! What a time to be alive! It’s safe to say my first Olympic experience was bananas! The fact that I got to interview, talk, mix and mingle with the stars added the cherry on top of an already sweet trip! Take a look at some more Rio Olympic highlights like the height match between me and Pau Gasol!!! LOL!