New Zealand’s first Olympic gold medal goes to… TVNZ’s graphics department, writes Tara Ward.
I’m an athlete in the prime of my life and sleep is for the losers. The Tokyo 2020 Olympics kicked off yesterday, and although the opening ceremony started deep into the New Zealand night, I was ready. I had had an extra year to prepare. I snuck into a nap, stretched, and even unscrewed a tube of Deep Heat, just for the smell. Best of all, the TVNZ1 Olympic team was with me, three presenters ready to peak at 10:15 pm, ready to take our tired hands and lead us all to victory.
“Welcome to something huge,” said presenter Toni Street, as “The Final Countdown” echoed through the studio. Like us athletes, say, no training can prepare you for this moment, especially when you realize that Toni and her fellow hosts Scotty Stevenson and Sarah Cowley Ross have coordinated their clothes to match the colors of the Olympic rings. They had hardly said a word, but already this trio deserved gold. Forget Lisa Carrington, there are new Olympic legends in town and they don’t even wear lycra.
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Toni, Sarah and Scotty sat at a sleek white desk, but behind them was a portal to another world. It was Tokyo on a screen, a city filled with neon lights and flexible athletes and a lot of exciting things. It sounded like I dreamed every Friday night would be when I grew up, because there was no way I was going to be an adult who spends her evenings sitting in bed eating shapes of cheese and bacon in the box and wondering who owns the idea of putting the Olympics so late.
No, I was born to live in this TVNZ1 studio, where the lights never go out and conversations never stop. Toni, Scotty and Sarah sat in their own dream stadium and chatted about New Zealand’s top medal contenders, as pink lights streaked across the screen and skyscrapers twinkled in the distance and colorful graphics. news popped up out of nowhere. Some call it “tech,” but I call it a feast for the eyes, the best migraine aura I have ever had.
There were 45 minutes to complete before the opening ceremony started, so as Scotty Stevenson interviewed Olympians Eliza McCartney and Mahe Drysdale, I watched all the magical things going on in the background. What would I buy in that convenience store behind Scotty’s right shoulder? How high could I climb that tree behind Mahe Drysdale? Are we going to find out that Wally was hiding in the Olympic Village from the start? My training had not prepared me for this.
“We don’t want you to miss a moment that matters,” Scotty said, but it was too late. I had already moved into the large green skyscraper next to the flashing pink needle building, opposite Mount Fuji and a giant digital clock with “TOKYO TIME” written on it. If it was the Olympic spirit, then I was absolutely full of it.
Toni, Scotty and Sarah were chatting like old pals, but I felt like I had never seen electricity before. The lights got brighter as the opening ceremony neared and the team took a live trip to Tokyo, where sunburned 1News reporter Guy Heveldt spoke about the effect of Covid -19 on the Games. There were lights behind Guy, but they were real, so not that cool. A yellow globe against a solid night sky? Please. The last thing we want in a news program is reality, and the sooner TVNZ realizes it, the better.
It was officially the fanciest Olympics yet, and they hadn’t even started. TVNZ1 left everything on the pitch, but I was worried they would peak too soon. After a touching interview with Valerie Adams, Toni and Scotty discussed their game faces. Toni said she doesn’t have any, and I looked at my empty box of Shapes and wondered if my face was game was made entirely of cheese and bacon. It was time for the opening ceremony. The Olympic Games were about to begin. “There’s a lot to look forward to, team,” Scotty told us, but I think I’ve seen it all.
TVNZ Olympic coverage begins weekdays at 12:30 p.m. and weekends at 12 p.m. on TVNZ1 and TVNZ OnDemand.
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