The athletes on the U.S. Olympic team spent years in grueling training and sometimes uphill battles to get to Rio, and as it turns out, the WRAL-TV Team had quite an ordeal getting to the 2016 Summer Olympics as well.
On Saturday, July 30, 2016, the WRAL Rio Team consisting of Anchor/Reporters Debra Morgan, Renee Chou and Jeff Gravley along with News Photographers Keith Baker, Ed Wilson and Brad Simmons checked in at the Raleigh-Durham airport, ready to fly. They’d take a flight through JFK in New York and then on to Rio. They thought.
Thirty minutes before take-off, the New York flight was cancelled due to inclement weather. Undaunted, WRAL’s Team Rio found another way.
“What a start to our Olympic adventure!” posted Chou. “Our flight out of RDU to NYC was cancelled 30 minutes before departure because of storms in NY. Three hours of angst followed, as we tried to find a way to Rio. Jason with American Airlines was our miracle worker! Incredibly helpful and worked out a new itinerary for the 6 of us: Miami, Uruguay, then Rio!!! And we are off. For real now.”
The Super Six arrived in Miami only to find their connecting flight had been delayed and would not be leaving until the following morning. They spent the night in the Miami airport, and headed to Montevideo, Uruguay, early the next morning. Because of the Miami delay, they then missed their Montevideo connection. Which meant a night in a Uruguay hotel.
Morgan narrated the saga for her Facebook followers:
“Team #WRAL update. Another flight canceled – which means a Miami airport sleepover. Leave for Uruguay in the morning then we fly to Rio on Monday. And here I thought getting there would be the easy part!!! Thanks for taking the journey with us!!!”
“We made it to Uruguay!! Long layover until tomorrow morning when we (hopefully!) head to Rio. At least we’re not sleeping in the airport again tonight. Team #WRAL is looking forward to a shower and a bed!!!”
The crew finally landed in Rio de Janeiro on the afternoon of Monday, August 1.
“Crew arrived timely and safely in Rio…luggage, not so lucky,” WRAL-TV Administrative Coordinator Diane Richardson told Capcom. “All 16 bags did not arrive in Rio. Their luggage claim checks were scanned and not one is found in the airline system.”
Thankfully the Super Six had carried their cameras, batteries, laptops and tablets on the plane. However, that left their clothes and support gear like tripods, lights, power supplies, etc, checked and missing in action.
Undeterred the WRAL Rio Team shared a photo from their hotel view in Rio bright and early Tuesday, August 2. During their time at the Olympics, they will contribute to 14 live half-hour specials on WRAL-TV, in addition to WRAL’s newscast coverage which will include 117 live windows. That’s a lot of news!
During the Rio Olympics, stay tuned to WRAL-TV Monday through Saturday at 7:30pm ET for “The Olympic Zone.” The half-hour news magazine will showcase the stories from our WRAL Rio Team alongside the production expertise, access and full range of resources available from NBC Sports. The show will debut on Thursday, August 4, with the final episode airing live on Saturday, August 20. The Olympic Zone on WRAL will include a preview of the games with a focus on NC athletes.
You’ll also hear from our WRAL Rio Team in segments on WRAL-FM MIX 101.5 and 99.9 The Fan during the games.
And hopefully somehow, somewhere, the Super Six will be reunited with their luggage. Stay tuned…
Thanks to WRAL-TV’s Renee Chou, Debra Morgan & Ed Wilson for these capcom photos.
UPDATE: Great news! Almost all of WRAL Rio Team was reunited with their luggage on Tuesday, except for Ed Wilson’s. We’re told it’s on it’s way to him. Onward and upward! See these happy posts from the WRAL Rio ladies:
ADDITIONAL UPDATE (Thurs, 8/4/16): Finally! The last bag, that of WRAL-TV News Photographer Ed Wilson, arrived in Rio last Wednesday night. We love this happy FB post from Renee Chou: