Talking Rio with Alicia Inns over Brazilian food
Calily Bien, KXAN – AUSTIN (KXAN) — Dedication and hard work. That's what it takes for any athlete to make it to the Olympic Games. For KXAN reporter Alicia Inns, while she's not a professional athlete (although she says she plays a mean basketball game and can tap you into oblivion), her dedication and hard work has also earned her a slot to Rio to cover the Olympic Games for KXAN.
While the Olympic Games don't kick off on NBC until Friday, Aug. 5, Alicia has been busy preparing for her own relay race of sorts. Ever since she was surprised with the news about being chosen as one of four Media General reporters to cover the Olympics, the past few months have flown by with a flurry of teleconferences, Zika outbreak, logistical planning and a crash course in Portuguese. After a hectic week spent ironing out most of the big details, KXAN's digital team sat down to dinner with Alicia at Austin's Brazilian restaurant Sao Paulo's to find out what this trip of a lifetime entails and to give her a preview of what Brazilian food she could expect in Rio De Janeiro.
Beverage: Caipirinha~Brazil's national cocktail made with cachaca (
hard liquor), sugar and lime
KXAN: When you found out you were going to Rio to cover the Olympics, who did you call first?
Alicia: I called my mom first and the first thing she said to me was ‘Do you need to get any shots or anything?' Then I called my dad and brother.
KXAN: How concerned are you about Zika virus?
Alicia: I think it was definitely one of those things that every time I logged onto Facebook or Twitter, there was something about Zika. Zika is not going to stop me from going and doing this once-in-a-career type thing. Yes, it's a concern but it's something where every day I'll spray myself down multiple times and it's going to be that. [KXAN is paying for extra bug spray!]
KXAN: What are your concerns about the news regarding the crime in Rio?
Alicia: I want to be excited for this journey, and I am! But it sounds like there have been so many issues, questions and problems and I am nervous. I'm just hoping that I can go and do my job and have fun and not be worried the whole time about what might happen to me. They strongly recommend to us that we don't go into the favelas, which are what they consider the slums of Rio. I'll have to see what it's like when I get over there. I have a feeling I'm going to fall in love with it.
Appetizers: Coxinha (fried pastry dough stuffed with minced chicken), Pao De Queijo (baked cheese rolls)
KXAN: How are you preparing for the 2-week trip?
Alicia: It's a lot of logistics. The least of my worries is, honestly, finding stories or athletes. It's making sure I can get everything sent back here. It sounds like the infrastructure over there is not the greatest to support all the media coming. One of the biggest things I want to do is show people what is here, where I'm staying, here's what the Olympic Village is like and how things are working and functioning when there are all these questions about whether or not these things will work.
KXAN: A co-worker of ours gave you a Portuguese book, how much of the language do you know?
Alicia: I've been learning but trying to learn the basics: hello, where is the bathroom? I want to be respectful and speak their language; I've been reading and practicing. I have a really long flight (Austin>Los Angeles>Panama City>Rio De Janeiro) and a majority of the studying will be done on the flight.
We proceed to talk about how good the chicken balls are.
Alicia: This so good! The sauce and the cheese. Anything that is either fried and/or has cheese in or around it, I'm a fan of. And these drinks, the national drink of Brazil is great! [as she takes another sip].
KXAN: Where are you staying?
Alicia: There's the Media Village for all the reporters and there's an International Broadcasting Center, where I'll be doing all my work. I have a live shot every morning and I have to get on a bus to get to that which is a 20-minute bus ride.
KXAN: Any concerns about the state of the Media Village?
Alicia: We're hearing things about the Olympic Village not being complete and/or working and if the Olympic Village isn't complete for the athletes, what am I about to show up in? I don't think they would let people come and have nowhere for us to stay. As long as I have a bed and a roof over my head, I do not care where I sleep. From what I've heard from people who have been to previous Olympics, I don't really sleep anyways, it's more like napping when I get the chance.
Entrees: Boba de Camarao (shrimp, yucca, onions and bell peppers in a tomato coconut cream sauce with rice), Galinhada (Brazilian paella)
KXAN: What sport are you most interested in seeing/covering?
Alicia: I'm so excited for track and field. When the events are going, they're so fun to watch. They are pure athletes and I love watching them. Just seeing these people compete and I just watch in awe. I could never run that fast or jump that far.
KXAN: What is your connection to decathlete and Olympic champion Ashton Eaton?
Alicia: He is truly my most favorite athlete that I'm going to see at the Olympics because he's deemed the world's greatest athlete. He broke the world record for the Decathlon and won the gold medal in London games. He's my age, 28, and he went to University of Oregon and he also grew up in Bend, Ore., which is the last news station I worked at… so I was the first reporter to ever tell his story. He broke the world record and I got to see that happen [in Eugene] and to say that I had been one of the first people to ever tell his story. And then he went to London and won the gold medal and now he's going back to Rio. He's the most humble and most amazing person to watch. He just happens to be freaking amazing at 10 events! These athletes work on perfecting one sport, he has to be amazing at 10.
KXAN: Besides Eaton, is there anyone else you're rooting for?
Alicia: I'm really excited to see the Women's Gymnastics Team. They're talking about them being the Fantastic Five, the best that there's ever been in women's gymnastics. I just want to see them dominate. I am fascinated by gymnastics! You are doing things that do not seem physically possible and you're making them look seamless. Gymnastics is something you watch and you want to be like that. They are strong and powerful.
KXAN: What are the stories you really want to tell while you're in Rio?
Alicia: I truly just want to see what it's like in Rio. Considering this is something the city has been wanting forever, in terms of tourism and money and now they're having trouble selling tickets. I want to see how it goes. Finding people who traveled from Austin to come to Rio to see their cousin or son. Maybe they're just coming to watch and now is the time to go. I have to find the balance of how many local athletes I cover versus more general storytelling.
As we were taking the last sips of our drink and packing up the rest of the food in to-go boxes.
Alicia: I am very excited. I think it just hasn't hit me. It's going to be a lot of work but I would not trade it, to say that I'm doing this, it's one of the coolest things.
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