Commentary from my time working at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Today is my first ‘off’ day and my first opportunity to actually watch an event. Yes, all this week I haven’t seen much except Team Canada versus [__]. So today I’m excited, mostly just because I can wear something outside of a yellow polo. ‘On the other side of things’ is what I would like to share with you.
Since the opening ceremonies, you have been inundated in great story lines, medal counts and amazing performances. On the other side, workers and volunteers have been slaving away (and I don’t use that phrase lightly) to make sure the athletes, coaches, and spectators are pleased. Everyone with a role making sure the games continue daily is tired, but we are still working and loving it! I put a smile on and field those a hundred questions per day.
We keep working because we have watched the games before, we want to be able to watch the highlights of the day and smile just like you. But it’s not easy. We are working in an environment where everyone is VIP. Every athlete, every coach, every spectator. I have no choice but to help when asked. And we are all upset when things go wrong, but there is no time to point fingers.
One of the neat things about the other side are the people who are working. While most committee members and volunteers are Brazilian, I have run into several who have served at a previous Olympic games. There are so many traditions to working the games that they have shared with us ‘newbies’. There are also a great number of former Brazilian sports legends working on the Rio 2016 committee. On the basketball side I’m working with a handful of former medal winners. They have proudly stepped up in these roles to make sure their country is well represented. I’m working with Janeth Arcain, Alessadra Santos de Oliveria, Cintia Santos, and Claudia Maria das Neves, all who participated in multiple Olympic games for Brazil. Legends. Inspirational.
I often tell people I coach basketball to ‘give back’. This is a great example of these fromer Olympians continuing to give to the sport that granted them so much.