'It's amazing': University of the Incarnate Word alum covering Tokyo Olympics for U.S. Army

When University of Incarnate Word alumna Brittany Nelson found out she would be traveling to Toyko to cover the Olympics, it would be the first time ever flying out of the country. 

The 27-year-old traveled to Toyko on July 19 to run the social media accounts, write articles, and take photos for the U.S. Army. She follows the solider-athletes competing in the Summer Olympic Games.

The soldiers are part of the Army's World Class Athlete Program (WCAP), which allows top-ranked individuals to perform at the international level while also serving in the military. 

"I was really nervous when they told me, but also excited because this is an amazing opportunity," the public affairs specialist says. "But, when you think of COVID-19 protocols, times it by like 10. That's how complicated the process is here."

Nelson says before they landed in Toyko, they all had to take COVID-19 tests 96 hours before take-off and then again at 72 hours. When they landed in Toyko, she says the check-in process took about six hours. The group then had to quarantine for 14 days after landing, with the exception of going to the venues and media center. 

Despite the strict, sometimes hectic protocols, Nelson says she's had an awesome experience so far, especially seeing the opening ceremony in person. She says she was able to snap some photos of tennis star Noami Osaka, as well as catch San Antonio Spurs player Patty Mills walk with the Australian flag for his country. 

Nelson witnessed First Lt. Amber English set a new Olympic record when she secured the gold medal in women's skeet on July 26 at the 2021 Summer Olympic Games. To even make it into the final round of the top six athletes, the five-time World Cup medalist competed in two days of qualification rounds, where she hit 121 of 125 targets.

"I felt so lucky to witness that," she says. "It was really cool just to be around so much talent."

Nelson plans on being in Toyko until the games end on Sunday, August 8. The U.S. Army program has an athlete competing in the women's boxing middleweight division and the finals are on the last day of the games.

"It's amazing here. I feel really blessed," Nelson says. "At first, it was a culture shock but the people are so nice here and welcoming. I'm grateful to be here and to cover these amazing athletes."