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Interviewing the Athletes
Kid Reporter works hard at bringing the story home.
By Anne Leitheiser, Scholastic Kids Press Corps

Anne Leitheiser with Access Hollywood's Billy Bush at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Bush was at the training center in October 2005 for the same reason Anne was there: to interview the U.S. Olympic Team athletes hoping to compete at the 2006 Winter Games in Torino, Italy, in February.
Anne Leitheiser with Access Hollywood's Billy Bush at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Bush was at the training center in October 2005 for the same reason Anne was there: to interview the U.S. Olympic Team athletes hoping to compete at the 2006 Winter Games in Torino, Italy, in February.
(Photo: Suzanne Freeman )
My experience interviewing athletes at the Olympic Training Center was amazing! It's hard to say what the best part was, because I liked it all.

I think I liked best the seconds after each interview when I'd think to myself, "Wow! That went really well!" I would then look forward to the next interview. I would feel so proud of myself, and I don't think there can be a better feeling.

The event I was involved in was the U.S. Olympic Committee's Media Summit in Colorado Springs, Colorado. It was held at one of the committee's three U.S. Olympic training centers, and it gave members of the media a chance to get to know the athletes training for the 2006 Winter Olympic Games.

My day at the Olympic Center went like this: arrival, interviews, lunch, interviews, departure. I arrived just as the interviews started, so I had to get to work immediately. Work didn't stop, even at lunch, until the end of the day.

I worked with another middle schooler, Mackenzie Korbus. We interviewed about 12 Olympic hopefuls in the morning and about the same after lunch. Every interview had to be recorded and taped, so we had to be conscious of being on camera, asking good questions, and getting people we've never met to open up about their lives.

We asked some general questions, but in the better interviews, we were able to personalize them for each athlete. We asked questions like, "How do you balance your athletic life and your family life?" and "What does being an Olympian mean to you?" and "Do you have any pets?"

Different athletes responded to different questions with enthusiasm. The pet owners would really perk up when we asked about their animals. Other athletes really liked to talk about their training or their families.

In some of the interviews, we would run out of time! Those were the really good ones, where we felt like we were having a conversation rather than a question-and-answer session.

After the morning interviews, we had lunch in the athletes' cafeteria. The lunch room was set up like a buffet line, and it had all the food information facts posted so the athletes could know the nutrition facts.

The food was delicious! Instead of the 20-minute lunches we get at school, we had a two-hour lunch, although we had to work during part of it.

After a little food, we met a TV journalist, Billy Bush, who talked to us about his job. He also gave us some advice on how to be better journalists.

One piece of advice was "Do your homework!" He told us we really needed to be prepared for interviews. Billy Bush is best known for his interviews with celebrities on the TV show Access Hollywood. He is also a first cousin to President George W. Bush.

All in all, I had a fantastic time at the interviews. And I think my involvement gave me a whole new view of the Olympics. You see, sports are not anything that have been important to me in the past. I could be very objective in my coverage. I definitely had an experience I'll never forget.

Photos, left to right: © Rick Rickman/NewSport/NewSport/Corbis; © Joe Cavaretta/AP Wide World.