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TV

Meet the Sky Sport sisters taking on Tokyo

'We're bringing girl power to the games!'

By Kelly Bertrand
When broadcasters Kirstie Stanway, Kristina Eddy, Rikki Swannell and Storm Purvis realised they were part of Sky Sport's first-ever all-female reporting team to head to the Olympic Games, they weren't sure whether to party or not.
"One of my friends asked me if I wanted to celebrate it or if I wanted to make it sound normal and leave it," says former Silver Ferns star Storm, 28. "But it is a big deal and I'm glad we're making it a big deal so that, one day, it doesn't need to be celebrated."
Smiling, Kirstie, 29, adds, "It's crazy that it's happening – it's so exciting. I remember when I first started in the industry just five years ago and I turned up to my first rugby press conference at the Crusaders.
It was just the old, stale, male sport reporters and it was so intimidating. I was the only woman. No one said hello and they just looked at me like, 'What are you doing here? Are you the photographer?'"
Women have been always woefully underrepresented in sports coverage and for veteran journalist Rikki, 40, to be able to head up an all-female team at the sporting world's pinnacle event is a culmination of almost 20 years of dreaming.
"All the single ladies are heading off!" Sky's Games team (from left) Storm, Rikki, Kirstie and Kristina.
"For me to not be token, and to not be the only one, is amazing," she tells Woman's Day. "I love having other women there! There's no ego with an all-female team and it's fantastic.
"But everyone going is good at what they do, regardless of gender, and we were the ones who were keen to take on a really big challenge – which, as far as I hear, some of the guys weren't."
"Yeah, and I know that some of the guys here [at Sky] are more family-oriented," nods Kristina, 25. "And isn't that the sign of the times too? None of us going have kids."
"All the single ladies are heading off!" laughs Rikki.
Dressed in the colours of the Olympic rings for our shoot, the four women are stoked to be heading to Tokyo together for Sky – New Zealand's official Olympic broadcaster – and as well as looking forward to some post-Games wines, they're enjoying getting to know each other on a personal level too.
"We're all on the same page, whereas sometimes with your male counterparts, you don't know where you stand – there's that element of 'Do you deserve to be there?' sometimes," says Kirstie. "But this group is so supportive."
And when it comes to the ever-present risk of COVID-19, all four say they have no fear heading over to Japan. Kristina explains, "We're all vaccinated, which is a super-privileged position to be in. We have very challenging jobs to do and it'll be very hot – that's what I'm worried about!"
"It's being so well dealt-with for us, we're really lucky,"
says Storm. "But yeah, it is an Olympics held during a strange time in the world, so we're respectful and mindful of that."
The group of gals are already finding their rhythm together, on camera and off. All fingers very quickly point to Rikki when asked who'll be playing "camp mum" and making sure everyone gets to where they need to be!
"That's absolutely fair," laughs Rikki. "I am very anal and very organised, so I have no qualms about being that person!"
Kristina grins, "Meanwhile, considering I just texted my flatmate to ask her to hunt around for my passport, I might be the one she needs to keep an eye on!"
Kirstie loves being a sports reporter so much, it "isn't even a job", she says.
KIRSTIE
Like lots of Kiwi kids, Kirstie grew up living and breathing sport, and dreamt of representing Aotearoa. "I always wanted to go to the Olympics," the presenter and commentator remembers, laughing. "And then I realised pretty quick that wasn't going to happen!"
But while she might not have been New Zealand's next Lisa Carrington, Kirstie found a way to pursue her love of sports – and it was a chance comment by a friend that convinced her to go into broadcasting.
"I'd never even thought of it, but once she said it, I was like, 'Yeah, that's it!' I came to Sky for my internship, then got a permanent job a few years later. Now I wake up every day and think, 'Honestly, this isn't even a job – it's a dream.' I'm so lucky and I don't take it for granted."
Kirstie can't wait to watch… "The gymnastics – I'm looking forward to seeing Simone Biles!"
These Games are going to be so emotional, Rikki warns she won't be able to hold in the tears
RIKKI
The self-described "old boiler" of the group, Rikki has paved the way for her fellow female reporters in her almost 20 years on the job. She's one of New Zealand's most familiar faces and voices when it comes to sports coverage, and was the first female rugby play-by-play commentator in Aotearoa, as well as the first woman to call a men's cricket game.
While this will be her fourth Olympics, Rikki says Tokyo will be by far the most moving, with athletes finally getting their chance at their sports dreams after a very strained lead-up to the event. "I know that the emotion of this Games will be off the charts, which is not good for me! I had a flatmate that used to say I'd be likely to cry at a Briscoes ad and she wasn't wrong – so I'm sorry in advance!"
Rikki can't wait to watch… "The rugby sevens girls – I have such a vested interest in them and I love watching them!"
As a Silver Fern, Storm was the one being interviewed, but now she's holding the mic
STORM
The ex-Silver Fern's journey to broadcasting kind of happened by accident. "Netball was my thing, but I always loved the post-match interviews," she tells.
"I was always the person that got put forward to do them! I was actually doing an interview at Sky for Netball Zone when the idea first occurred. I had half-retired – my knees were bad – and I bumped into The Crowd Goes Wild's James McOnie. We got chatting, then the next day, he'd added me on Facebook and asked me what I was doing for work. All of a sudden, I was up!"
Chucked straight into the deep end on The Crowd Goes Wild, Storm learnt the art of broadcasting on the job and is looking forward to applying her new knowledge at the Olympics – an event that, as a netballer, she never thought she'd be attending!
Storm can't wait to watch… "The track and field, definitely – it's the glamour events!"
Kristina's idea of funis crawling through mud, so the Games should be a breeze!
KRISTINA
She might not be pulling on an Olympic uniform, but Kristina knows exactly what tough competition is like. The newest Sky Sport journalist spends her spare time competing in gruelling Spartan and Ultimate Athlete competitions – yep, the ones where you crawl through mud, haul massive weights and climb things that no reasonable person would think of climbing.
"Let's make this very clear, I'm not on the level of any of our Olympic athletes!" she laughs. "But it's really fun."
Starting at Sky the same week as last year's level 4 lockdown, Kristina's looking forward to her first Olympics, and indulging in her love of athletics and rowing. "Well, all of the sports really. I love it all!"
Kristina can't wait to watch… "I can't pick just one, but I'm looking forward to seeing all of these amazing athletes finally get closure and finish their journeys."

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