TOKYO (KXAN) — As she settles in to cover the Tokyo Olympics for KXAN and Nexstar Media Group, Candy Rodriguez is giving her social media followers a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes.
Meeting more Olympians
On Aug. 1, Candy met up with four-time Olympic gold medalist Ryan Murphy, who swims for Team USA. She even got to hold a gold medal to see how heavy they are, and in return, she gifted him with a KXAN pin.
The next day, Candy met four-time Olympic medalist and Team USA swimmer Lilly King. They discussed mental health and the importance of celebrating silver and bronze medals.
She also got to meet Team USA Rugby player Ilona Maher, who put out a kind message to her supporters back home.
“I’ve seen all the watch parties, I’ve seen all the posts, and it really kept me going,” Maher said. Maher also shared some heartfelt words for her parents.
“I wanna thank you all for being on the other end of the phone whenever I call you, even though it would be the middle of the night when we got done and whatnot.”
Trying all the snacks
Candy got to try out some Japanese snacks while in Tokyo, including going to a Starbucks! She grabbed the Tokyo Frappuccino on Aug. 1. The drink is made with coffee jelly and a caramel sauce.
Candy said her favorite snacks included sweet potato fries, rice crackers mixed with northern shrimp and brown sugar karinto.
While Candy is on a mission to have sushi, ramen and more Japanese food before she leaves Tokyo, on Aug. 3 she was able to grab a quick bite at a Mexican food restaurant!
On July 30, Candy officially cleared her COVID-19 quarantine! She had to quarantine for 14 days before she could explore Tokyo for herself. She was notified through an app, where she recorded her health and temperature every day.
Clearing quarantine means the Nexstar team can finally use public transportation and eat in a restaurant. Candy was especially interested in riding the Tokyo Monorail.
Check out Candy’s first time riding the train on July 31.
As we pointed out earlier, Candy is becoming quite the pin trader and collector. She’s also spreading the love of Olympic pins to Olympians themselves.
KXAN News has its own pin (in the shape of Texas, of course), and Candy has given out a few to two-time Olympic medalist Laurie Hernandez, gold medalist Lydia Jacoby, Team USA softball player Cat Osterman and silver medalist Erica Sullivan.
She even got to throw some out to the USA Men’s Gymnastics Team on July 27, when social distancing kept them apart.
Taking in Tokyo
On July 26, Candy got to experience the men’s gymnastics team finals in person! She tweeted this was the first time they got to see an Olympic event in person.
“Feels a little weird not hearing the roar of a crowd cheering the teams on,” Candy wrote. She shared photos of Team USA and the arena.
Not only is she seeing Olympic athletes compete — she’s making friends with them.
On July 27, Candy got to meet up with the one and only Lydia Jacoby. The 17-year-old from Alaska won gold in the women’s 100-meter breaststroke earlier this week. Jacoby has committed to swim at the University of Texas as part of the 2022 recruiting class, so we’ll be seeing more of her in the Lone Star State soon.
Beginning her live coverage
Candy started her coverage on July 21 for KXAN and other Nexstar Media Group stations. She kicked off her live shots talking about Team USA Softball — a sport that’s been left off the Olympics roster for more than a decade.
She interviewed former University of Texas softball player Cat Osterman, who came out of retirement to compete and is now a three-time Olympian.
Aside from reporting, Candy is becoming quite the pin collector. Her lanyard shows off the various NBC stations participating in Olympics coverage. According to Olympin Collectors Club, pin trading is one of the earliest traditions of the event, with host countries releasing designs for hundreds of pins for tourists.
Traveling to Tokyo, getting test for COVID-19
Candy arrived in Tokyo along with the rest of her Nexstar Media Group colleagues July 17 (Tokyo is 14 hours ahead of Central Time), where they were met with COVID-19 tests as soon as they got into the terminal. They all tested negative.
The flight to Tokyo from Los Angeles wasn’t full at all. Candy said she had an entire row to herself. She took this short video of what the cabin looked like before takeoff.
After she got her bearings following the 11-hour flight, Candy posted a video to give folks an idea of what media members covering the games get for breakfast. She also provided a quick update on how restricted they are when it comes to moving about the hotel.
“We can’t use public transportation, we can’t explore the city,” she said. “We’re very much in a bubble. We come here, go straight to our room, always have our masks on so we protect everyone here.”
Candy also took some time to learn a few phrases in Japanese so she could communicate and understand messages that aren’t in English, and she talked about that when watching Japanese news in the video.
She also knows Spanish and has been recording promos for stations that have requested them. She’s like a Swiss Army knife — she does it all.
You can follow Candy’s journey in Tokyo during the Olympics on her Facebook page, where she’ll post an online diary of sorts about her experiences and observations during the most unique Olympics the world will ever see. And, watch the Olympics on KXAN, plus follow updates and memorable moments on kxan.com.
Here’s the view she’ll use as the backdrop to all her reports from the Olympics, highlighting athletes from Texas and beyond.