Everything Else

Rio: A Volunteer’s View – The Final Instalment.

IMG_1545I am writing the final post as I fly across the Atlantic home. Thankfully Air France is no longer on strike. Phew! I thought I would have time at the airport so I could get this across before I left, but in true Brazilian style I just about had time to grab some food, having taken ages to drop my bag off.

With the volunteering over, Tuesday was a day of being true Olympic tourists. I actually got a lie in which was awesome, although my flat mate woke me up at 6.20 to ask if I was aware of the time. I think it was so early she forgot I had finished. Susy and I did our usual route to the stadium; these days our route is a lot more busy than before the opening ceremony. Not only does the BRT we take go to the Equestrian, but also to the Rugby and a couple of other sports.

On arrival first things were first, I have some trading to do with the farriers. I had a Netherlands pin. It was super cool as they’re a big pair of orange clogs. However I was desperate to get a horse shoe. Ben lived up to his awesomeness, not only did we get shoes, he traded me my pin for an Australian one. It even had a Kangaroo on it. This meant I had every nation’s pin that worked on my sector. This will certainly go with the piece of broken flag from Fence 20 which all my guys including Damien the Camera Man signed for me.

IMG_1481With the trades made we bade farewell and went to watch the showjumping. Despite supporting two very different teams both myself and Sasha in an attempt to be patriotic were wearing red tops, blue shorts and white accessories. You couldn’t write this stuff. It did mean we were super coordinated, and was made even better once we had her Stars and Stripes and my Union Jack.

Unfortunately the stadium wasn’t fully sold out. This seems to be a trend for most sports at these Olympics which is such a shame. I really believe that media outlets have really pushed the dangers and medical issues in Brazil putting off travellers. I will admit, it nearly put me off attending but having been I can’t believe I ever considered not going. It’s something you would need to be aware of, and you do have to look after yourself, but it’s so welcoming here. Now you are all probably aware of the stray bullets that have appeared in the Equestrian Centre. Now these events have happened, I will admit I only heard of them the few times I was able to get on social media in the evening, while it wasn’t really a topic of conversation on the ground. There is military everywhere and police; all may I add are armed. Where these bullets are coming from we’re not sure. I don’t believe that it’s the military, they have been practicing the whole time I have been here. Their base is huge and we live next to it. You can hear them but they are miles (literally) away. These events coincide with the days that media are at the venue broadcasting or practicing. Therefore the word on the ground is that it is locals trying to shoot down the Blimps being used by the Media to capture the images etc from a height. It is thought those trying to shoot it down think it’s police spying. But that’s enough on that as it’s pure speculation and no one on the ground feels in any danger; despite media portraying this as the case.

As the Stadium had spare seats we were lucky to be able to watch from the stands. It was a baking hot day but totally worth it! Team GB really did everything they could that day. They left every fence up, only the Germans were the other team to do this. One passer by went ‘as if you only came 5th’. My thoughts were that that was really good considering where we were positioned after XC. The atmosphere was exciting, not quite 2012 but I think the Brazilians gave us a run for our money in terms of home crowd support. The first rider unfortunately fell for the Brazilians which led to a delay in the horse being caught as the audience continued to clap and cheer. As much as it is alien to be in an audience who don’t know the customs at equestrian events it’s fantastic to see it reaching new audiences; something we need if we are to remain in the Olympics.

IMG_1503After the last riders I had to cut and run as I had tickets for Gymnastics Women’s Team finals. I couldn’t be late to support the Girls! The gymnastics was phenomenal. USA smashed it (we all knew they would) but our guys did brilliant. We came 5th which is our best women’s team performance at the Olympics for decades. What I found phenomenal was the Americans’ passion. I have only been to one medal ceremony beforehand; this one was something else. There were a lot of USA fans in attendance who all sang their hearts out. It was so emotional I nearly cried for another country.

As it was my final night the girls and I all met to go for dinner near Copa. However I became green with envy. The girls had hung around at the beer garden in the equestrian centre only athletes and volunteers have access too. Turns out they all went back there with their medals! I kind of missed out. I was super chuffed for them; but in hindsight I wouldn’t have changed my decision; I love gymnastics too much!

For dinner we found a lovely little bar where we had cocktails and I had a burger. This is something I had been craving for the last two weeks! It was the best night to leave Brazil on. The swimming was on in the background. It seems most of the USA crowd had followed us as they cheered on Phelps!

And now here I am. Truly sorry to be leaving. I did manage to squeeze in a view of a couple of dressage tests including the first for Team GB before my flight today which made me happy.

IMG_1548These last few weeks have been phenomenal; that is the only way I can describe it. We’re all still Zika free and had the best time. If you ever get the opportunity to go to Brazil, do. If you ever get the opportunity to volunteer, Olympics or not; take it. You will never meet so many extraordinary people in such a short space of time. I am already making plans to visit Germany and America!

Thank you for reading about my journey, I’m only sad it wasn’t for longer. I’m now off to finish my journey and catch up on the Men’s Gymnastics All Around Final, and follow Carl and Charlotte’s dressage when I get home. This is why I love the Olympics and why I love Equestrian in all its forms! They’re just awesome!

N.B. On turning my phone on to send this in, I received a text with the Gymnastics scores! We made history, Bronze for Max. My mum also made history texting me the results for the first time ever. Whilst super chuffed it’s the one time I was after the surprise. Welcome back to Blighty!

Our very sincere thanks to Lizzy Campbell for sharing her story and providing the pictures of her wonderful experience of volunteering at the Olympics.

About the author

Kerry