Everything Else

Rio: A Volunteer’s View – Part 2.

Cross Country rehearsal!
IMG_0884Today started with an accidental lie in. As it’s winter here it gets light around 6am and the sun then sets about 6pm. Luckily 6am is my alarm time, so waking up with light in the sky at 6.20 got me going and we made the bus, just. The view from our bus stop is very strange. Behind is a new shopping centre. The bus stop itself is brand new. It’s on the transolympica BRT line. This means it has its own new roads only Olympic traffic can use. In front as we wait, is a favella. Now as much as I love the Olympics this does put into perspective why it’s not something Brazil as a whole have wanted so far.

So our Bus arrives. This is something potentially our public transport systems can learn from. Not only are they on time (not very Brazilian I will admit) but all of the Brazilian underground and overground trains and Buses are like fridges. They take it to the extreme but they are air conditioned. Sometimes it’s nice not to have your face in a sweaty Londoner’s pit on the tube. TFL please take note.

IMG_0946We have the standard queues at security. For once they scan my bag rather than search it. The closer we are getting the more security is increasing. As much as it delays things this is a good thing so no one complains.
As today is a XC rehearsal day we get a packed lunch, we are reassured this will be delivered to us at the course. So we gather at the Judges’ tent for a quick briefing from Andy before riding in the back of a truck, to our section, to section 5.

Of course we have to have an obligatory picture with our fence. It is a pretty cool fence. It involves a big log at fence 19, followed by two options of skinny brushes at fence 20, downhill. Being two thirds of the way round a hot course, this may cause a few issues. So the test involved several bikes going round the course handing out scenarios. Our fence smashed ours: our scenarios were a protester, and an athlete taking the option B at the fence.

IMG_1064Also on our fence is a lovely vet team and doctor, there is a team stationed at every fence. This will mean no time is wasted in the event of any one needing assistance. We are also joined by Cameraman Damien. We all got along very well, me and the girls also made the camera guy laugh by talking about the amount of steps we have been doing the last few days followed by us stuffing our faces with snacks. (We are averaging 20,000 on volunteer days). I was also designated chief hair braider for the girls. I obliged, i get plenty of practice on my cobxconnemara so we are now the ‘braidy bunch’.

On the hunt for some toilets, Sasha and I passed the training arena. It just so happened that William Fox-Pitt was cooling off. Determined to get a photo where I’m not bawling, Sasha egged me on. All I can say is he is the loveliest person in the world. Not only did I get photo with him, but Chilli Morning joined in too.

After awesome team leader Andy sorted our lunches out, the tests continued and the athletes walked the course. Earlier WFP had asked where we were stationed, and of course we told him. Therefore as soon as Andy said Team GB were on the tracks behind me I melted! Our Vet is French, so when the French guys passed we all shouted ‘go the blues’ in French. They then had a photo. Celine hadn’t been so lucky with the Germans, so I had no idea which way this would go. Amazingly they stopped for us. We got a team photo with Team GB (minus Gemma) unfortunately she was off ahead. They were lovely (of course) and asked how we had got involved volunteering, and I didn’t cry!

IMG_0854The end of the day came and we had our obligatory beer. We also met some new volunteers that my housemate is working with. These were fellow Brits, specifically Scotland. Me and the girls had some awesome moments in this down time. We met Ingrid Klimke and some of the USA dressage team! We also got some German and USA pins. I was chuffed I had all the countries I wanted now as I had already collected the home nations. Just the Eventing cup to go!

We had heard the Olympic flame was also passing the centre at 6pm. Therefore we waited to see this. It was very cool, but very different to London’s. The flame was followed by hundreds of army trucks rather than the sponsors I had witnessed four years ago in Selby, Yorkshire.

Friday is the opening ceremony (we would recommend a watch). We have volunteer work in the morning and then are planning to go to Copacabana, hopefully we will find a big screen after what should be another incredible morning.

Our thanks to Lizzy Campbell for sharing her story and photos.

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