From our resident expat perspective, the Rio Olympics went very well. I’m so pleased, after all the negative media hype leading up to the games, that Brazil was able to show the world its beauty (both natural and cultural) and hospitality. This was definitely a once in a lifetime experience for us that feels even more special because it was a wonderful way for us to mark a huge, fast approaching, transition for our family. In a week our daughter flies off to her first year of college in the US, beginning an exciting new chapter in her life. My husband and I are of course feeling the bittersweetness of this change and, even though he makes plans to turn her bedroom into a workshop, I know her younger brother will miss her too.
While my previous post concentrated on the Olympic National Houses we visited and the excitement of opening night, this post documents the sporting events we attended. Months before the Olympics, we signed into the ticket lottery system, checking the sports we were most interested in and crossing our fingers.
We were happy with our lottery assigned events and, once the Olympics began, we picked up tickets to a few extra events. What sports did we choose? Take a look! I’ve included a mixture of photos and video clips to give a taste of what it was like to be a spectator at Rio 2016
Arena Volei De Praia (Beach Volleyball Arena) – Copacabana
Before cheering on Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross in their match against China we donned our USA shirts and ate Chinese food at a restaurant across the street from the volleyball venue.
The Brazilians yelled ZIKA!!! whenever USA served. When watching competitions between other countries, most Brazilians will cheer for the team they consider the underdog.
Look at all the displays of country pride – colors, flags, funny hats, face paint, animal mascots, all mixed together enjoying the moment.
Clube de Regatas do Flamengo
My husband and son watched the US men’s basketball team practice at Flamengo, one of the sports clubs here in Rio. Our son took his basketball and came home with multiple signatures.
Parque Olímpico (Olympic Park) – Barra da Tijuca
We have been waiting 2 years (the Brazilians even longer) for the new metro line to open. Now there is a stop just a few blocks from our apartment. However, until the end of the Paralympics, only event ticket holders can ride.
I like the sporty floor decals.
Once in Barra da Tijuca everyone must transfer from the metro to the new BRT bus line to reach Olympic Park. From our neighborhood, the journey takes about an hour. Despite the crowds, transportation ran very smoothly.
As a kid, what I loved about the Olympics wasn’t just the competitive excitement of the games but the window it let me peer through into life in other countries. The main reason my husband and I chose the nomadic life we have is our curiosity for other lands and cultures. Walking in Olympic Park was like the the world had come to us 🙂
Brazil vs Argentina – HUGE rivalry, the crowd was so loud! It was a close match but Brazil lost in the final minutes.
USA vs Australia – This was a nail biter, the Australian team was really good!
We watched table tennis at Rio Centro, another venue just down the road from Olympic Park in Barra da Tijuca.
Why table tennis?
We have a pingpong table at home and my husband and son get into some fierce battles. However, I had no idea how intense Olympic table tennis would be. China dominated!
We saw Michael Phelps qualify in 100m butterfly and Katie Ledecky both qualify and break an Olympic record in the 800m.
Hat Trade at the Olympics
As we were leaving the swimming stadium at Olympic Park an older Brazilian woman touched my arm, pointed to my hat and while smiling, asked me a question. At first I thought she wanted to know where I had gotten it, but the young man she was with held out a hat to me and asked if I would trade my hat for his. I preferred my hat but here were two people who obviously liked my country, so in the spirit of goodwill I made the trade. It looks good on him!
Ginásio do Maracanãzinho (Indoor Volleyball Venue) – Maracanã.
We traveled by metro to north rio to watch indoor volleyball at a gymnasium near the Maracanã stadium.
Nice surprise – my daughter’s friend and fellow volleyball player happened to be at the USA vs China match too.
Although China later went on to win gold, on this day the USA beat them WOOHOO!!!
We also saw the women’s teams from Italy and Puerto Rico as well as the men’s teams from Argentina and Egypt compete.
Their jumps are superhuman!
USA beats Mexico!
Estádio do Maracanã
Women’s Soccer Final- Germany vs Sweden
I rooted for Germany since I lived there for a few years as a kid. The majority of Brazilians however, cheered for Sweden and loudly booed Germany. The Brazilians say it’s just part of their sports culture but the booing really gets under my skin. I cannot reprogram a lifetime of thinking “boos” are reserved for bad calls or bad behavior. I wanted to boo the booers.
Germany wins gold!
What are the odds? My daughter and a friend from her old school in Portugal bumped into each other at the women’s soccer final.
For USA – we watched J’den Cox (86kg) win Bronze and Ryan Snyder (97kg) win Gold.
Wrestling was a lot more entertaining than I expected, especially when the Mongolian coaches took their clothes off.
After our first evening of wrestling, we caught the last part of the men’s soccer final on the big screens at Olympic Park. Tensions were high as the game went into overtime and then to a penalty shoot-out. The crowd went wild when Neymar scored the winning penalty kick to win Brazil its first Olympic gold medal in soccer.
Our last pic on the last day of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games – what an amazing way to cap off our summer!
Now it’s back to school for our high schooler and off to college for our girl.