Gold medalist Sarah Hughes has signed on as an Olympic Games correspondent for WCBS-TV in New York.
Her first report, a story on Olympics-bound fencers in Brooklyn, N.Y., aired Tuesday. She will continue to file daily reports, often profiles of athletes, for WCBS throughout the Games, which begin Aug. 13.
Hughes, 19, won the gold medal in women’s figure skating at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. The Long Island native says she and the athletes she will interview are part of a unique family.
"When you meet another Olympian, you have so much common ground, you already feel like you know each other because you’ve been through a similar experience," Hughes says. "They’re different sports, but we all go through the same thing."
Hughes’ reports will air on the 5 p.m. newscast and throughout the day, says Lew Leone, WCBS president and CEO. All CBS-owned stations will carry the reports, and affiliates will have the option to broadcast them.
With Hughes as a correspondent, Leone and WCBS will have something unique amid NBC Olympics’ 1,200 hours of coverage.
"It’s difficult if you’re not the host broadcaster to cover the Olympic Games," says Leone. "But Sarah is a gold medal winner coming off the last Olympics who knows a lot of the athletes-that will give her great entrée to the athletes in the village."
Hughes, a first-time reporter, isn’t worried about her lack of broadcasting experience. She’s been through this before, she says. "Preparing for the Olympics means preparing for the media and press, as well."
Leone isn’t concerned either. "She’ll go over there with a good producer. So she’ll have support," he said, adding: "She’s very natural and engaging. She’s the all-American girl."
The reporting assignment for a major market station is essentially a summer job for Hughes, who will return in the fall to begin her sophomore year at Yale University.