Commentary from my time working at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Tonight the opening ceremonies for the Olympic Games will be held. It is the night most athletes relish, mainly because it is an off day of training and the final break in their schedule. My time in the athlete’s village has been crazy! Rio’s Olympic village certainly carries a high allure of what [read: who] is to be seen. Just walking through the village you realize how many professional athletes you don’t know. As my friend would say, ‘It’s like the Disney World of Athletes’. There are so many successful athletes out there–so many role models, and this is one of the very few places they can go and be in a peer group.
Surprisingly I don’t feel like I should be here as an athlete. I love competing but I have not second guessed my path. I love my role in Rio2016. Usually I’m good at sensing the mood in my environment, but here there are so many things happening. My team has a sports psychologist on hand, and I can only imagine some of the mental turmoil these athletes will experience over these couple of weeks. This morning I saw an athlete leaving the polyclinic on crutches with a full leg brace, I can’t imagine the disappointment they must feel. Every time someone rolls their ankle, I cringe. Hopefully, they will still be granted the chance to participate.
The question of the past few days was, “who is your favorite athlete?” Rafa Nadal is at the top of my list, but during my time here I’ve been able to wave at the likes of the USA Gymnastics team, Team France men’s basketball squad, the Williams sisters, the Gasol brothers, Ricky Rubio, and several former and current women’s basketball icons. I have been in wide-eyed fan girl mode, but mostly too shy to ask for photos. Believe it or not, I have been asked for quite a few photos, I think people just like my hair… As more sports start to compete, I’m interested to see what else will change in the village.