As the first Western television reporter to cover up close the Libyan rebels’ takeover of Tripoli and dramatic ouster of Col. Moammar Gaddafi from power, Sky News correspondent Alex Crawford has become something of an international sensation.

During the incredible hours and days of the rebel takeover, Crawford’s name trended on Twitter as world capitals switched to Sky News for the latest — thus usurping the BBC (and for that matter, CNN’s) traditional role as the news source guaranteed to be at an event’s ground zero.

“I’m a bit stunned at all of the interest, because I’m hardly the first reporter to have covered such historic events, and I’m certainly not the first woman to do so,” says Crawford, citing Christiane Amanpour and Laura Logan as fellow intrepid women working in harm’s way.

But she also acknowledges that she has found herself in the right place at the right time: as Sky’s correspondent in Mumbai and then Dubai (she recently shifted to South Africa), she found herself covering one epic event after another, from the Mumbai terror attacks and the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan, to the Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan and the Arab Spring of 2011.

“When I was stationed in Mumbai,” she notes wryly, “my editor told me, ‘You know you’ll never get on the air going to India.’ How wrong that proved to be!”

Just as remarkable as Crawford’s rapid elevation in less than a decade to the top of her profession — she has won the Royal Television Society’s Journalist of the Year prize three times, as well honors in the Bayeux War Correspondents awards and from the Foreign Press Assn. — is how she managed to buck the odds to get there.

Opting to raise three children and put her career on hold, Crawford managed to restart things professionally (with her journalist husband, Richard, agreeing to trade family roles with her) in her late 30s, “at a time when, really, most women would have decided to give up. It’s either that women forget entirely to have children at all, which I think is such a loss since I passionately adore children, or give up on their professional dreams, which is also a shame.”

Title: News correspondent, Sky News
Role model: My mother Emma (who) sacrificed to ensure my sister and I had opportunities.
Career mantra: “Keep trying, and when anyone says no, try harder.”
Leisure pursuits: “Climbing, caving, scuba diving, skiing.”
Philanthropic passions: Cancer research, Plan International “and we’ve sponsored the education of half a dozen young people mainly in Togo and India.”