Everything Else

Rio: A Volunteer’s View – Part 3

So although this is an E-venting blog, yesterday was very much a dressage day! The day started like any other day, we got into work for 7.30. We didn’t start until 8 and it looked like there were the pure Dressage riders in the training arena. Now I love Eventing and it is what I grew up loving, however since sharing my own horse, dressage is where I discovered my heart truly lies. After about 1 minute of watching from afar Susy (my house mate and colleague) and I realised that in the middle arena there was only Charlotte and Valegro in Training!

We had to had to go watch! We walked down to the edge of the arena and it was incredible! It turns out Valegro doesn’t always want to do as his told but still he’s much more behaved than most of the livery horses on my yard! Unfortunately at 8 I had to go but those 20 minutes were some of the best I’ve spent watching horses in action. She was doing lots of challenging moves which I can only dream of doing on my boy, Paddy.  It was apparent I wasn’t the only one! Athletes from the other Nations and Disciplines were watching her and taking pictures. All I can say is I’m so proud it’s unreal that she competes for Team GB!

IMG_1145Today for work it was a second radio check for the XC. We need to make sure everything is tip top before the big day! This is the Olympics after all! All the teams operate on different frequencies. For example the fence judges will operate on a different frequency to the Vet team and again different to the medical guys. As a result today I got to pretend I was on the Ground Jury and that I was a vet! Safe to say both of my radios worked! From our sector it was a smooth run through and it seemed that way for the rest of the course. Certainly on the frequencies I had access to!

As this was the only job for the day, we finished volunteering by 11. The girls and I had planned to go the beach but first we needed lunch which was 1 hour after our shift finished. We made the most of our down time by heading to the indoor arena to see who was training. This time Carl Hester was in! I should say now I literally love our dressage team. On his way out of the arena I bumped into Charlotte on foot. What else was I going to do but ask for a photo and wish her luck! This time I didn’t cry either, however on returning to my girls I was shaking like a leaf! I had spoken to Charlotte Dujardin! I was in total heaven. I don’t know how but every day just keeps getting better!

IMG_1209Today was also the opening ceremony. With the afternoon off, the Brit, German, Brazilian and American headed to Copacabana. We sunbathed, had coconuts and Calrinhas. After a long week of incredible volunteering it was a wind down needed! For the closing ceremony itself we were invited by Bianca to her family’s home in Rio. This night would prove to be one of the most special of the trip.

Bianca’s family were soooo welcoming. Her mum had made us some incredible food including traditional Brazilian dishes. It also happened to be Bianca’s younger sister’s birthday the day before so we also had some awesome chocolate cake! We had already been to the rehearsal of the Opening Ceremony but we were excited to see the ceremony on TV. Although it turns out the week proved too much and during the athlete parade most of us fell asleep. I might add this was after I got excited on the Team GB film which focused on the Gymnastics coaches. Having shouted “that’s Scott Hann, he coaches Max Whitlock” the girls chuckled and I soon fell back to sleep.

This was our first day off since starting. Having stayed at Bianca’s we were woken up to the beautiful smell of Coffee. Did I tell you her mum is a good cook? We had a lovely breakfast in which I took a liking to cheesy, dough ball style food. Having had this before leaving Bianca showed us a bracelet and helped us make additional ones which represents elements of life and how they are important. They were black with 5 beads. Yellow, black, red, white and Green. These represent our life, the fact that sinning happens, that jesus has redeemed us, that we are redeemed and lastly that life is important. This certainly wasn’t how I planned on watching the opening ceremony but I certainly wouldn’t want to have experienced it in any other way. The Olympics are incredible like that, they bring everyone from every culture together!

IMG_1303Sasha (the American) and I left Bianca’s and met with Susy to go to the Sugar Loaf. The views from this place were sooooo beautiful. If you ever get the chance to visit Rio (which I strongly recommend) I would certainly get yourself down to this as well as Christ the Redeemer. From the top we got to see from a distance some of the sailing, as well as the whole of Rio. We had lunch with a view too whilst we were there. What is nice about Brazil, is when you’re at a tourist attraction they won’t rip you off for things like food. So with the Sugar Loaf once you’re there you can only leave on a cable car (which I found really scary), yet we were still able to grab lunch for no more than the equivalent of £5, cheaper than a coffee shop in England!

Following this, we went to the steps of Saint Theresa. I’m not overly sure how these have evolved over the years, but some of the tiles were pretty cool. Plenty of Hamza’s! This was followed by dinner in the area near by. Sasha and I had all the cheese! It was sooooo good. I also managed to order what seemed to be the largest beer in the world.

IMG_1319Whilst we were here we met two Danish Guys who have sailed on a Danish Training ship all the way from Denmark. Pretty much real life Vikings, it’s taken them near enough 2 months. I then got very excited on hearing the news that not only was William Fox-Pitt in the lead but Team GB have qualified for the Men’s Gymnastics finals! (Unfortunately I wasn’t able to keep up to date during the day until I had Wifi access.)

Tomorrow is our last dress rehearsal before the big day. We’re very excited to finally see all the athletes in action over our jump. But first we need to make sure everything is right!

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

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