Scholastic Kids Press Corps
The Scholastic Kids Press Corps is a team of about 50 Kid Reporters around the nation.  The interactive site brings daily news to life with reporting for kids, by kids.

Oprah's Olympics

150 Olympians come to Chicago for The Oprah Winfrey Show and to support the city's bid for the 2016 Olympics

By Allie Sakowicz | null null , null
150 American Olympians on stage with Oprah Winfrey in Millenium Park in Chicago for a taping of <i>The Oprah Winfrey Show</i>. (Copyright: 2008 Harpo Productions, Inc./All Rights Reserved./Photographer: George Burns.)
150 American Olympians on stage with Oprah Winfrey in Millenium Park in Chicago for a taping of The Oprah Winfrey Show. (Copyright: 2008 Harpo Productions, Inc./All Rights Reserved./Photographer: George Burns.)

They pulled them out of purses, backpacks and pockets. Olympic medals made of gold, silver, and bronze. They draped the necks of more than 150 athletes at a taping of The Oprah Winfrey Show last Wednesday in Chicago.

Thousands of people from all over the world packed into Millennium Park for the taping and to see Olympians such as Michael Phelps, Nastia Liukin, Shawn Johnson, and Kobe Bryant, among many others. It was a big event because it was the season premiere of the show. But it was also meant to promote Chicago's 2016 Summer Olympic bid.

The excitement began for me before the cameras even started rolling.

About an hour before taping, four black vehicles pulled up to the entrance. The doors opened, and Michael Phelps stepped out of one of the cars along with his family and plenty of security. He quickly waved at the media and went right into the building. It was a movie star entrance for a world-famous athlete.

The taping started as the athletes paraded down the center aisle and high-fived people in the crowd as they made their way to the stage while the audience chanted "USA!" Oprah was enthusiastic about all of the guests and exclaimed, "Thousands of proud Americans are here for three great reasons: Gold, silver, and bronze!"

Throughout the course of the hour-long taping, Oprah spoke with Michael Phelps, Nastia Liukin, and Shawn Johnson, the men's basketball team, Dara Torres, Misty May-Treanor, Kerri Walsh, and the women's 4x100-meter relay team. She also conducted brief interviews with other teams and athletes during the taping.

One of the other teams that spoke with Oprah was the gold-medal-winning Men's Court Volleyball team. One of the members of the team, Tom Hoff, is an alumni (graduate) of my high school, and he came to speak to us on the day after the Oprah taping. He spoke a little bit about his training and preparations for the Olympics and what it felt like to be an Olympic gold medalist. It was very cool to hear how his dream of being an athlete started in the very gymnasium where we were sitting.

Kid Reporter, allie sakowicz, with david cook
Kid Reporter Allie Sakowicz with David Cook. (Photo courtesy Allie Sakowicz)

At the very end of Oprah's taping, a surprise guest made an appearance. American Idol Season 7 winner David Cook sang his hit single "The Time of My Life" as the athletes left the stage. After the show I got to take a picture with him!

All of the athletes (with the exception of Michael Phelps and Dwyane Wade) left on double-decker buses bound for their hotel. Chicagoans lined the streets, cheered, and waved at them. All of the athletes looked as though they had a fantastic time in Chicago, and most had cameras to document the event.

Hopefully, the enthusiasm people showed in Chicago before and after this special episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show will bring some attention to the Chicago 2016 bid, and the International Olympic Committee will see how great Chicago really is!

The season premiere of The Oprah Winfrey Show, taped at Millennium Park, will air Monday, Sept. 8. Check your local listings.


Get the latest on everything that's happening in Beijing during the 2008 Olympics in the 2008 Beijing Olympics Special Report!


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