Tom Hammond, NBC sportscaster (#342)
NBC sportscaster and native Lexingtonian Tom Hammond discusses his career and his assignment to the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.
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Tom Hammond, a Lafayette High School and University of Kentucky graduate, talks about his Kentucky roots and his days as a high-school athlete. Becoming a sportscaster, he says, never entered his imagination because he was shy and did not enjoy speaking in front of people. Despite his fears, he started reading horse racing results on the radio.
Hammond began his television career at Lexington NBC affiliate WLEX with an annual salary of $9,800. He wrote scripts, taped and edited segments, acted as sports anchor, and even did the weather report. He talks about the importance of the experience he gained there and how that job helped him become one of NBC’s staple on-air personalities.
A veteran of eight Olympic Games, Hammond refers to the Beijing Olympics as the highlight of his career. He talks about the innovative venues, the warm reception from the Chinese people, and the unprecedented level of competition on display from swimmer Michael Phelps and sprinter Usain Bolt. Hammond also talks about the heartbreaking races lost by track and field favorites Tyson Gay and Lolo Jones.
Finally, Hammond discusses changes to the horse industry prompted by the death of filly Eight Belles after this year’s Kentucky Derby. He talks about new safety measures in the sport, such as installing synthetic tracks and banning steroid use, and shares his optimism about the outcome of those changes.