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Melodie Robinson's biggest parenting challenge yet

The multitasking mum of two little champs is ready for the Rio Olympics.

Melodie Robinson is the kind of person who takes everything in her stride. Whether it’s keeping her energetic sons Jenson (6) and Freddie (5) entertained, studying for extra qualifications or presenting live coverage of sporting events, she’s always up for a challenge.
She’s about to face what could be one of her biggest tests in her 13 years as a TV sports journalist and presenter when she heads to Rio as part of Sky TV’s team covering the Olympics, but she’s handling it in her usual no-nonsense way.
“I’ve never been to an Olympics before but I did go to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014, so I’ve got a bit of an idea of what it is like to cover an event like this,” she says. “And although I’ve never been to Rio, I’ve been to Brazil twice, to cover the women’s sevens in Sao Paulo, so I kind of know what to expect from the country.
“I do know it’s going to be hard yards – it’s long hours and a lot of work. And it is definitely not glamorous. But you just have to take each day as it comes and get on with the job.”
There are fears that the games, which open on August 5, could be a disaster, with many of the venues still under construction and transportation tipped to be a nightmare. There are also concerns about the health of athletes, especially with the mosquito-borne Zika virus resulting in birth defects.
Melodie (43) is looking on the bright side.
“They say every Olympics is going to be a shambles but every time, the host country manages to get it together in time. I’m sure traffic is going to be a challenge and I do worry a bit for the athletes’ sake about hygiene, but you just have to have faith.”
Melodie with sons Jenson and Freddie.
Now that her childbearing days are over, Zika is less of a concern personally.
“But I can understand why other people would be worried. I was in Sao Paulo in February when the Zika scare emerged and there are things you can do to avoid getting bitten, such as wearing long-sleeved tops and trousers.”
Those issues aside, Melodie is excited about working at the Olympics. She’ll be covering sevens rugby, hockey and golf, which she’s very happy about. Rugby is her forte – as well as playing in the past for the Black Ferns rugby team, she has competed at sevens events and presents coverage of Super Rugby and All Blacks games for Sky.
She’s also a big fan of hockey and her husband Marcus Wheelhouse is a former golf pro turned coach, so that’s a sport she also follows.
“Some of his interest has rubbed off on me, but not his ability on the golf course,” she smiles.
She could be called on to report on other codes if Kiwis do particularly well at them.
“If that happens, and I have to cover something I’m not prepared for, I will just have to think on my feet, especially if it’s some obscure sport,” she tells. “You prepare as much as you can – a researcher compiles a big book of sports history and information, and I will read up on that – but sometimes things have to be done on the fly. It keeps you on your toes!”
Melodie says the toughest part of going to Rio is being away from her sons. Once the games finish, she will be staying on in South America, where Marcus will join her to spend 10 days walking Peru’s Inca Trail.
“We’re doing the luxury version – no carrying packs or putting up tents. I’m looking forward to that – I’ve never done anything luxury,” smiles Melodie. “But it does mean that I am away from the boys for five weeks in total, which will be hard. Thank goodness for Skype!”
Jenson and Freddie are laid-back about their mum being on TV, and have watched her in action from the sidelines at Eden Park. Jenson is a huge rugby fan and plays for an under eights team.
“He gets what I do and the fact that I used to play. I’m his team’s coach,” explains Melodie.
Freddie isn’t as sports-mad. “He’s more creative. He keeps us entertained. He’ll dance around in a tutu, he’s very funny.”
As well as juggling motherhood with her TV job, Melodie is also managing to do papers towards an MBA (Master of Business Administration).
“I would love to one day get into sports management. I think you need to look ahead and have lots of strings to your bow. Studying is a lot of extra work that I somehow fit in around everything else. I’m lucky to have a supportive and patient husband, and a mother-in-law who lives with us and helps out with the boys.”
For the meantime, however, she’s happy presenting sports, especially rugby.
“My work isn’t really like work, to be honest. It’s my passion and I feel very lucky that I happen to get paid for it.”
Words: Donna Fleming
WATCH: Melodie Robinson learns to throw a shot put from New Zealand Olympian Jacko Gill

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