Brits Abroad : After London 2012 Rio 2016
(Copacabana Beach Volley)
It has been one month now since the closure of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio. And still, it feels like yesterday we were inaugurating the first games ever in Latin America. Colourful Games, might I add. I was a volunteer at the Games, and since I also was a volunteer at the London Olympics in 2012, I am bound to make comparisons between these two great events.
Colourful, because our uniforms were really nice and coloured: yellow, green, orange. Really nice. Colourful, because we were in Rio, and although it was the “winter” season, the temperatures were just perfect, and the sun was shining for most of the time, and the colours of the sandy beaches and beautiful sea and all the venues decorated like it was Carnaval time made the whole experience really very enjoyable.
(Rio, a Cidade Maravilhosa)
Colourful were the people I met, volunteers from all over Brazil, who all had in common this “joie de vivre” that was quite contagious. At the same time, they were really proud to be holding the Games in their country and made every effort so that they would be a success. And they were.
I volunteered for the Olympics only this time, the cost of staying in Rio was too high to be staying a whole month for the Paralympics too. I was at the Tennis Centre, which is not Wimbledon, but the atmosphere in there was electric. The Brazilians do know how to cheer for the champions, whatever nationality they may have.
(O meeting doc voluntarios)
The experience was great, form the moment I walked out of my accomodation in the morning until the moment I got back in the evening, from taking the incredible modern metro to the Olympic Park, meeting and greeting and chatting with people on the trains and walking amongst the crowds to the Park, and queuing for lunch, and welcoming everyone at the Tennis Venue.
I had never been to Rio, or to Brazil before, and I think it was the best way of getting acquainted to the people of Brazil. They are really very nice people, very hospitable, sociable, and laid back. I guess the climate helps, but also the music, and the food, and the great ethnic mix. And the fact that I was sharing with them something that I had lived in London 2012 made me a part of this country for the two weeks I was there. I had been learning Brazilian Portuguese over the last five years, and this was fundamental in making me feel so close to the Brazilians. However, some of my colleagues who also came from Europe, Canada, and Russia and who did not speak the language felt really comfortable working with the local volunteers, since the key of it all was the fact that we were all sharing the same experience in these wonderful games.
And, like I experienced it in London 2012, the sheer emotion of being there and the healthy spirit of athletes, delegates, umpires, public, volunteering and working force in general and love for the sport that dominated back then was ever present in Rio as well.
Next Olympics, Tokyo 2020…who knows, I might start learning Japanese…you will know in four years time !
Guest Blogger : Maria Luisa Teale
Born from a British father and Venezuelan mother. I have lived in Italy for the past 30 years. Married to a Frenchman, with two daughters, I speak five languages, and love sports, all kinds, whether I practice them or just watch them. This passion of mine made me get a Masters in Sport Psychology which brought me to collaborate in projects for mental training in a couple of tennis schools in Milan.