Rio Olympics Report #5

1. Event Action: In the past 3-4 days, I’ve seen rugby, beach volleyball, swimming, handball, and basketball. Rugby Sevens was a lot of fun and I watched Japan almost beat Team GB. Only downside was having to walk nearly 40 minutes to get from the station to Deodoro Olympic Stadium. The beach volleyball venue had the best atmosphere I’ve experienced here – electric! We sat in front of Ross’s parents and watched her and Team USA’s other BAMF, Kerry Walsh-Jennings, beat Switzerland in a close game to go 3-0 in Rio. Loads of fun even though it was cold and semi-rainy. At the swimming heats, it was cool to see all of the USA stars like Phelps and Ledecky without paying the big bucks for the finals events at night. Only saw half of the Spain-Nigeria basketball game due to the bomb scare. Cool to see Pau Gasol though! Yesterday was my first time watching handball and it was thrilling. In the first game, Qatar tied its game against Tunisia with only 10 seconds left and people went nuts. (Somehow I found myself sitting in the middle of the entire Qatar delegation and learned that all of their coaches are from Spain because Spain is really good at handball.)

2. Rio Transport: My making-friends-on-public-transport streak continues. Basically,I mess up the transport or I just won’t shut up. An English-speaking Brazilian volunteer, Daniel Dutra, saved me last night and helped me get to my bus in a sketchy area (muito obrigada!) Tonight, I found myself across from two Lithuanian Americans on the metro. They are here solely to attend all of Team Lithuania’s basketball games and told me how they had just come from dinner with Lithuania’s legendary former Portland Trailblazer, Arvydas Sabonis, who’s here to watch his son play for the national team. Apparently, they’ve known the elder Sabonis since he was 18 simply through being super fans. Of course, I had to tell them that my grandmother was one of the original Blazers’ season ticket holders. I did go 2.5 days without having a massive screw-up on public transport.#stillterrible

3. Food: The Hunger Games continue, too. At the basketball game, the only food they had left at the arena was potato chips and peanuts. Ridiculous. If you are following me on Snapchat, you saw a pic of those disgusting little pizzas they are selling at venues. So tiny! Another volunteer recommend a burger food truck but even that was sub-par. The Brazilians are also complaining about the food at venues so I know it is not just me. I was also told by some volunteers that the SQOL beer on offer here is the worst of the three major Brazilian beers. Plotting to go to a Brazilian steakhouse at some point. Our team leaders are organizing a potluck party of boxing press peeps on the 22nd and I’m looking forward to the food they’ll be preparing.

4. USA House: Since I had to go pick up a ticket for the women’s tennis final tomorrow from someone working at the forbidden USA House, I actually got to poke around (I claimed I needed to go to the bathroom there) and then my escort offered to show me around a little. They have an uber desk for guests to use right by the front door across from the registration desk. Inside, there are lots of palm trees, free food and drinks, a rooftop bar, and huge couches. Outside, bright red, white, and blue lights shine across the building. I spotted a surfboard signed by all of our athletes. My escort explained that Carl Lewis and Michael Johnson were there earlier today. Athletes get 4 guest passes and any after that cost $200 per day. Former Olympians get two and extras cost $300 per day. I was also allowed into the public Team USA shop after hours and saw that the main USA Nike jacket they all wear (red sleeves) costs over 1,200 Brazilian Reals. Everyone at the house goes and drinks down the street in Ipanema Beach at Bar Astor. I went there the other night and can see why.

5. Volunteer Life: We got another set of event tickets today. I opted for water polo quarterfinals on Tuesday. Was walking around Olympic Park yesterday alone and of course, the pin trading craze resulted in meeting the one and only beer and books-obsessed Carlos Eduardo Silva and his friendly fellow aquatics center volunteers. Also shared a Coke at the Coke house (free Cokes in limited edition gold Olympic bottles) with Gabriel Castro after befriending him in line. We have a lot of non-Brazilians working on the press team (which is fun!) but it’s great to get out and meet a lot of Brazilians, too. Perhaps the cutest thing I learned was from Camila Carvalho who showed me the right way to eat these famous turtle chocolates like Brazilians. I really enjoy hanging out and getting to know the other volunteers.

Next up, work at the morning boxing tomorrow follows by the aforementioned tennis final (go Puerto Rico!) We shall see what other hyjinks I get up to….

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