Beth Hamilton in Sochi 2014

Beth Hamilton in Sochi 2014

Kim Rhode, a skeet shooting legend, had just become the first American to earn an individual medal in five straight Olympics. Step to the podium. Here comes her gold medal.

Cue the national anthem.

And that’s when Beth Hamilton lost it.

“I couldn’t help it,” she said of that moment during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. “Once I heard our national anthem play, I started crying. It just hit me that I saw someone realize her dream, and at the same time, I was realizing mine.”

Hamilton, a 2003 sports broadcasting graduate of Pittsburg State University, was covering the 2012 Olympics for NBC News Channel in Charlotte, N.C., where she has worked as a sports producer/photographer for nearly three years.

It was the chance of a lifetime. A dream come true. All of those cheesy clichés and more.

“It really was an amazing experience,” she said. “Ever since I was four, I’ve loved watching the Olympics. I remember hoping and wishing that I would someday get to see them in person. I never could have imagined that I’d get to do it as part of my career.”

Twice.

In September 2013, Hamilton’s station asked her to be part of the coverage team for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

“That was a cool feeling,” she said. “I am passionate about my career and what I do every day, and it feels good to be recognized as someone who does it well. To be asked to cover the Olympics for a second time was just incredible.”

The Belton, Mo., native said it can often feel surreal to be a part of an event as massive as the Olympics. She added, however, that she makes sure to cherish every moment.

“To get to travel the world and interview some of the world’s best athletes is quite a rush,” she said. “It’s one of those experiences that many in our business dream about. I know I did, and I’m fortunate enough to have this chance. I don’t take it lightly.

“It’s a ton of work,” she said. “It’s 18-hour days for a month straight with no days off. It’s not a cakewalk by any means, but it’s a blast. It’s the Olympics. It doesn’t get any bigger.”

And covering the Olympics is just one highlight of her young career. In fact, she got the news that she’d be going to London not long after returning from another major sporting event.

“I found out about London about a month after getting back from covering the Final Four in New Orleans,” she said. “KU was in it that year, and that’s my favorite team. That was pretty cool.”

Beth Hamilton in London for Olympics

Beth Hamilton in London for Olympics

She’s also covered the NFL combine and a plethora of Carolina Panthers home games. And in another one of those “dream come true” experiences, she got to participate in the Michael Jordan fantasy basketball camp.

“I shot a free throw with Michael Jordan standing right over my shoulder watching me,” Hamilton said. “So, you know, no pressure there. I made it and won a pair of Jordan’s.”

Her career isn’t always fun and games, however. In the summer of 2013, she was assigned to help cover the George Zimmerman murder trial in Florida.

“We needed people to help provide coverage, and I had some news experience at KOAM when I was still a senior at Pitt State,” she said. “I went down there thinking it would be for a few days and ended up staying for a month.”

Hamilton said the experience was much different than covering the sports world.

“There was so much emotion and so much international attention on the case,” she said. “It was very interesting seeing our justice system through the perspective of journalists from other countries.”

While she doesn’t mind helping in news when need be, her passion remains with sports. That’s why, she said, covering the Olympics gives her a thrill like none other.

“I don’t know what the next big thing for me will be after getting back from Russia,” she said, “but I hope it includes another Olympics someday.”