As part of the NBC family for two decades, Cheryl Preheim, weekday evening anchor for 11Alive in Atlanta, covered the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England; 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia; 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and the 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea.
With a unique opportunity to share the inspirational stories of many team USA athletes, she’s closely followed the journeys of Olympians like 3-time Olympian Elana Meyers Taylor, 5-time gold-medal swimmer Missy Franklin, and gold-medal skier Mikaela Shiffrin.
It is a challenge to choose one favorite memory from years of an event built on inspiration and the stories of incredible people who overcome tremendous odds to reach their dreams. In her own words, here are some of Preheim’s favorite Olympic moments.
Hugging History with Swimmer Missy Franklin
I was at the London Aquatics Center in 2012. It was a sold-out crowd. 17-year-old Missy Franklin was making her Olympic Debut dancing and smiling on the pool deck. She had a way of reminding people about the joy of the sport.
My team and I had followed her for years leading up to the Olympics. She and her family opened their home and let us into their lives. I’d known the Franklins since Missy was 11. By the time we were in London, they were like an extended family. I was standing near the diving boards, just 50 feet away from the wall she touched to win her first Olympic gold.
When she got out of the water and came over to us, we hugged. I said to her, “You are now Missy Franklin Olympic gold medalist!” She laughed and cried simultaneously and said, “I can’t believe it. I really can’t believe it!”
Having seen all it took for Missy and her family to get that moment, gave me a deeper appreciation for the significance of reaching the Olympic dream.
That Olympics, Missy Franklin broke a world record, became the first woman to win four gold medals in a single Olympics in any sport, and was the most decorated woman of the 2012 Games. Michael Phelps was the most decorated man. She went home and got ready for her senior year of high school.
Fun & Games with Skier Mikaela Shiffrin in Sochi
Snow and rain are not a good combination. The morning of the gold medal slalom race at the 2014 Games in Sochi, the rain was breaking down the snow on the course.
Our TV equipment was drenched as we waited at the finish line. At one point, Russian Olympic volunteers stopped to talk with us. They offered us some garbage bags to help protect our camera.
When Team USA skier Mikaela Shiffrin crossed the finish line to win her first Olympic gold medal, she came to talk to us. We were wearing those garbage bags over our soaking wet winter coats. Mikaela laughed and said she may have won gold, but we should win best dressed!
Swimmer Simone Manuel Makes History in Rio
At the 2016 Olympics in Rio, I watched as Simone Manuel made history with her gold medal in the 100-meter freestyle. She became the first African-American woman to win an Olympic gold medal in swimming. She set an Olympic record, too.
I had the opportunity to interview Simone and her mom. They were both incredible and talked about the honor of having the chance to encourage others to follow in Simone’s footsteps and be a part of the sport.
Looking Forward to Tokyo with Christian Taylor
The reigning Olympic and world triple jump champion Christian Taylor is an inspiration. He is humble, grounded, and kind even as he was voted “Athlete of the Decade” for Track and Field. He is favored to win his 3rd consecutive Olympic gold in 2021.
Christian is dedicated to helping the next generation have access and opportunity to the sport. He also works to help ensure that same opportunity to athletes from around the world. His dad was his coach growing up and still coaches at his high school in Metro Atlanta. It was great to see them work together to help young athletes when he hosted his invitational for hundreds of kids around Georgia.
He recently just launched The Athletics Association, a body for athletes to have a greater voice and influence over their sport. He is a voice for sport, social justice, and building community. He sees his position as a leader on Team USA goes far beyond the competition.
What is Your Advertising Strategy for the Tokyo Games?
The Olympics has always symbolized a time when the world pauses, in peace, to come together around the idea that if you work hard you can achieve a dream. Coming after postponement, a global pandemic, and heightened awareness and action addressing social injustice, the 2021 Games will be a significant and powerful opportunity for the world to come together and showcase the peace and unity that the Olympics stand for.
Share your Olympic goals with us in the form below and a member of TEGNA’s Power of Inspiration team will help you launch a gold medal campaign of your own.