Alan Worrall reports: They call it the “Greatest Show on Earth” and every 4 years the youth of the world assemble and provide to the peoples of the world, plenty of drama and excitement plus controversy and the joy and euphoria than no other event on the planet can match. It’s the Olympics and is Rio ready to party? Despite talks of boycotts, unfinished stadiums, transport and security issues and the risk of Zika. The games of the 31st Olympiad of the modern era are about to commence for the first time in South America in the Brazilian city of Rio De Janerio.
Over the next number of weeks I hope to bring readers through my experience of attending an Olympics Games. This being my fifth Games to attend, the appeal of why I and others go, will hopefully be explained by the end of my journey at these Games you might see why it really is the Greatest Show on Earth. I will introduce you to some great and genuine people I meet in Rio and the stories they shared with me whether attending Melbourne in 1956 and seeing Delaney win Gold or witnessing many other defining sporting moments: Cassis Clay in 1960 at Rome. Beamon and the long jump in 68, or the feeling of being at Munich in 1972 during the hostage crisis and its loss of life for those young people. These images/stories we can now view on YouTube or sports documentaries. But nothing beats being there back then, and talking to these fellow Olympic spectators who were there is an education and something I will always value dearly.
On Friday 5th August 2016 the Olympic Flame was lit in the famous Maracanã Stadium in downtown Rio heralding the commencement of these Games. My own journey was to commence on Tuesday evening 9th August I said goodbye to my family and began my own Olympic voyage. First stop London Heathrow and then a flight to Lisbon in Portugal and then the final part of my journey with a 10 hour flight to Rio. I landed in Rio on Wednesday 10th at 18:00hrs. I was collected by a rep from Track and Field tours UK and on to my hotel. I was now part of the tour party made up of a great group of people for the UK and Ireland all experts in the sport of track and field. On the Thursday 10th I awoke early and thankfully very little sign of jetlag and after a nice breakfast was followed by a walk with my roommate Tony Fahy from Corrofin/Galway. I first meet Tony at my first games in Atlanta in 1996. Tony like myself loves the sport of athletics and continues to run several times a week. The “Olympic bug” bite Tony and he has had the opportunity to attend Olympics as far afield as Moscow, LA, Athens and Beijing and recent editions in London and now Rio.
The location of our hotel was a gift not only were we within a five minute walk from the nearest Metro station. We were also across from the Marathon route. In fact we were able to view the both races with the runners passing by the Hotel 6 times. A walk beyond the marathon route lead down to Flamengo beach and to the left was the Marine de Gloria where Annalise Murphy would win her well-deserved silver medal. The view from my hotel room allowed me to view all the sailing races taking place. So we really hit a winner with the hotel. The rest of my first day’s afternoon was spent catching a metro to the famous Copacabana beach.
Copacabana beach is everything you would expect it. All forms of life and cultures could be observed. Have a beer or a cool drink, watch the beach volleyball etc. I walked the full length of the beach where at one stage the temperature hit 30 degrees and this was Rio’s winter. Brazilian summer time is in January to March where temperatures can get up to the late 40’s. I managed to spot the BBC studios as I walked towards Fort Copacabana where the previous Friday I had seen Claire Balding of the BBC welcome the viewers to Rio. I really was here.
- Commencement of Athletics programme.
- Meeting some familiar faces.
- Sugar Loaf Mountain.
- Mc Ginley Harrington, Power and Bubba Watson at the Golf.
- Lost on the Metro?