TOKYO (WCMH) — Well everyone, the end has come. Technically, the Olympics ended last night here in Tokyo but I wanted to take one full day to really go over my thoughts on what these last three weeks have meant to me and to many.

The first feeling is one of gratitude. I am incredibly grateful to be given this assignment. It was truly the last thing on my sports bucket list to cover as a journalist and I was given the awesome opportunity to cross it off my list. So I am thankful to the people at Nexstar Media Group, my general manager, news director and others who entrusted me to doing this job and doing it well.

Also, very thankful to work with such a great team here in Tokyo and three more back in the States that helped us get everything on the air. The seven of us here in Tokyo worked our tails off, but it was work we enjoyed doing. And we enjoyed it even more because we were able to do it together. We had such a fun group. All of us with our own special skills but the same positive attitude needed to endure this gauntlet of an event. I couldn’t imagine doing it with another group of people. Simply put, we had a blast!

I’m also grateful to the people of Japan. What fantastic hosts they were, despite unthinkable circumstances just 18 months ago. I’m still of the belief these may have gone done as one of the greatest Games ever if not for COVID-19. And honestly, they still might because of the incredible work they did to adapt to numerous changes and their ability to keep people safe during a pandemic. Only 430 people considered “games-related personnel” tested positive since July 1. That’s pretty remarkable. But more than that, they were generous and helpful in every way. From the organizers to the staff to the volunteers, a hearty thank you from me.

Of course, I’m grateful for the athletes and the resolve they showed during these Games and over the last five years. The Olympics are special because they only come every 4 years. Adding an extra year only made these Games that much more legendary because almost every athletes that qualified had to fight that much harder and train that much longer to seal their spot in Tokyo. That is another year of blood, sweat, injuries, and tears. They deserve all of our praise for their determination and dedication. And I thank them for trusting media members like myself to tell their stories leading up to the Games and immediately after competition came to a close.

So what was it like? It was odd covering these Games. The quarantine. The lack of access. The absence of international visitors. The near silence in most venues. It was an Olympics like no other. But the essence of the Games was certainly there. The competitions were excellent. The sportsmanship was evident. The emotion was felt across the world. And the victories and defeat were just as thrilling or agonizing as any other.

Kudos to all of our Ohio athletes who competed for various countries, most of them for Team USA. A special congrats to those who returned with a medal, giving them a symbol of their hard work paying off in the most glorious of ways.

What was my favorite moment? Oddly enough, it was the opening ceremony. Watching it on TV and seeing the athletes march in with such hope, love and gratitude (there’s that word again) for being able to be in that moment. For me, it marked the start of a wild adventure. From that moment on, the rollercoaster that is covering the Olympics didn’t stop until the Olympic flame was extinguished.

I have so many stories, pictures, and videos to share but there’s plenty of time for that. I’m sure for the next four weeks or so, I’ll still only be talking about my experiences here in Tokyo. But for now, I’ll stop here and leave you with this short phrase I learned during our ceremonial tea ceremony a few days ago.

“Ichi-go ichi-e”, which means “one time, one meaning”. The saying reminds all of us to cherish every encounter we have with people, because many meetings in life are never repeated, thus making each moment once-in-a-lifetime.

That’s what these Olympics were to me. And forever will be. Thank you for reading. And thank you, Tokyo.