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My Olympic Experience: Interview with an eLA

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Talented journalist and our very own eLearning Advisor Mel Woods talks to us about what it was like to report on the Rio Olympics.

Was this your first time reporting at an Olympic games?

No this was my third time. I first covered the Olympics in 1996 and then 2000 but didn’t again until this one as I had three kids in the meantime. This time I got to cover rowing, sprint kayaking, rugby, hockey, tennis, water polo, boxing, beach volleyball and cycling so I got to see a lot of amazing sport!

Have you reported on other major sporting events in the past?

I have – I used to cover the Australian Rugby Union team full-time so have covered a number of their tours as well as the 2003 World Cup. I cover the Australian Open tennis each year and regularly cover golf tournaments, such as the World Cup of Golf, in Melbourne this November. I’ve also covered rugby league and AFL grand finals.

How long were you over there for?

I was there for four weeks. I arrived eight days before the Olympic Games and started to cover things like athlete arrivals and practice matches, as well as how the organisation of the Games was travelling. I left the day after it finished as I couldn’t wait to get home to the family.

How did you get this opportunity?

I had to apply – it’s quite competitive as it’s open to all journalists at the Australian Associated Press (AAP), not just those who work in sport so I was really excited to be chosen.

What was your favourite event?

Watching Usain Bolt in action, he’s such a absolute legend and he’s unlikely to compete in the Olympics again. The Boomers against the USA was also awesome.

Have you profiled any interesting personalities?

I loved covering Australian rower Kim Brennan winning her gold medal. She’s an inspirational athlete and person.

Would you do another Olympics, if given the opportunity?

I would definitely love to cover another Games – I wish I didn’t have to wait another four years until Tokyo.

Are there any sacrifices you must make when pursuing stories that take you to far off places?

It’s hard to be away from the family for so long – my kids are 8, 10 and my son turned 12 while I was away which I didn’t like to miss. Also the hours you work at an Olympics are crazy. There are no days off and you have to be ready for anything. Plus, the coffee is surprisingly bad in Brazil!

What advice would you give to people who are just starting out in the field of journalism?

I think it’s a case of who you know rather than what you know. So get to know people – volunteer, make contacts and try to keep in touch so you’re at the front of their mind if an opportunity comes up. Also, be up for anything!

Thinking about becoming a journalist? You can find more information on our communication courses here.