Our men and women in RIO; – Blog 2 Kerry, Wendy, Pamela and Lesley – “In the House”
The title is a little misleading, as actually these four ladies have spent very little time “in the house”; their base while volunteering at the Rio2016 Olympic Games. There have been far too many sports to see, medal winning performances to witness, flags to wave, Fencing scores to collect, athletic and TV stars to be photographed with, TV and radio interviews to give, fabulous sights to see…… and on……. and on……..
The girls have been keeping us up to date (and highly entertained) via their joint blogs on Facebook with all their adventures on this volunteering experience of a lifetime. Here’s a selection of some those posts and pictures which we hope you enjoy.
We all thought volunteering at London 2012 was an unbeatable experience. Rio2016 is getting dangerously close to beating that! And we love that social media technology has advanced so much in 4 years that we are ALL able to enjoy the experience!
Thanks to Soprano 2s, Kerry and Wendy, Alto Pamela and Tenor Lesley for these great posts.
Day 1 from Kerry 02 August 2016
We’ve arrived! 🇬🇧✈️🇧🇷 Fantastic flight with BA. We were so exhausted that we slept for most of the flight. I cried as we landed in São Paulo. #memories Hot footed it to another terminal and made our connecting flight to Rio. And what an amazing descent into Santos Dumont airport in Rio. Swooping low over the sea and with Christ the Redeemer looking down on us. Our lovely host was at the airport with Lesley to meet us. He took our luggage straight to the house and left his daughter with us to help us navigate Rio. So a quick tram ride to collect our uniforms and accreditation from Cidade de Samba which is also used for storing old carnival floats! Very long queues but after telling them we’d travelled straight from London we were pushed to the front of the queue. Very smooth operation much the same set up as London 2012. Time then for a cold drink and an uber ride back to our house in Recreio. Time for a cup of tea 😀
Day 2 from Kerry
Having now been in Rio for 24 hours, we decided enough of sitting around and time to explore!
We are staying in a lovely house in Recreio with a local family. And under 10km from the Olympic Park. So when we decided to have a trial run to the park, we thought it would be easy! Well we thought wrong!
Step one: Walk to the bus stop. Fabulously easy. Less than 2 minutes from the house.
Step two: Get on the right bus. Reasonably easy The buses have steep steps and then you have to navigate a very narrow turnstile. This is all a bit tricky for our Lesley (aka Skippy). So we quickly learned the trick of asking the driver to open the rear doors to let her on (still steep steps but no turnstile to negotiate and plenty of helpful young locals to give Skippy a hand. A quick 10 minute bus ride and then off to wait for the next bus.
Step 3: Get on another bus. Not at all easy!!!!! In theory there is a bus every 15 minutes. So we waited and waited. We followed the lead of the other Brazilians in the non-queue and stepped out into the road to peer down the dual carriageway to see if we could spot the lesser spotted 931A. But to no avail. To pass the time we played, spot the road cycling team and were rewarded by seeing Team Iran, Team Italy and Team Turkey pedal past. Finally, 45 minutes later, the elusive 931A arrived.
Step 4: Enjoy the journey and get off at the right stop. Quite challenging! It was great to see the athletes village with all the flags hanging outside. Then we did recognise the Olympic Park and hop off the bus, cross the 8 lanes of traffic and, hoorah we are at the entrance of the Olympic Park in Barra (pronounced Baha).
The entrance process is similar to London 2012 – x-ray machines and metal detectors. Once we were through that, we were actually in the park. We of course made comparisons with London 2012 but it really is quite different. The stand out buildings are the centre court for the tennis and the shiny aquatic centre. We stopped for an understated photo with union jacks and caught the attention of a couple of Canadians from one of Andy Murray’s sponsors, Under Amour. Wendy entered into some illicit pin trading and we went on our way.
Next stop….somewhere for a drink. Easier said than done when the park isn’t really open yet to anyone other than workforce. Luckily we found a coffee place where they were just trying out their machines. We offered to be their tasters…mission accomplished.
Next we headed to the Olympic rings for a photo opportunity. Now being the unassuming lot that we are, we attracted quite a lot of attention with our union jack attire! Various official photographers took shots of us and then BBC Scotland asked us to be in the background of their live broadcast. However, better offers were on the horizon. John Hunt, swimming commentator for the BBC tapped us on the shoulder and asked if we were busy……us…..too busy for a media opportunity??? Never! So we followed John and were introduced to Craig Heap (ex Team GB gymnast) and to the show’s presenter, Eleanor Oldroyd and went live on air on her show on BBC five live just after 7pm. We managed several name checks for the choir, a promise of a drink from Craig and a quick photo with another Olympian, Adrian Moorhouse before wandering back through the park.
Then who should we bump in to? The lovely Clare Balding. Well we all know she often plays The Games Maker Choir’s single “I wish for you the World” on her Radio 2 show and that she loves a knitted! (A little knitted doll in uniform) So after being panned by her cameraman, we introduced her to Lesley’s knitted which had been made by lovely Becky Spring’s mum. Clare promptly named him Ronaldo! So watch out for our #wheresronaldo tweets and facebook posts!
Exhausted and content, we headed home after a quick bite to eat. Fortunately a slightly less traumatic journey home. Its our first shift today & the Olympic torch is also passing very close to our house – so lets see what that brings.
Day 3 from Kerry
So we discover that the Olympic torch is passing very close to our house. Fabulous we think. But in true Brazilian style, we cannot find the schedule anywhere. Our host’s son confidently tells us it will be at 4.30pm. A fellow volunteer insisted it was between 8.45am and 12.45pm. So we hedged our bets and made the five minute walk to the beach at Recreio dolled up in our volunteer uniforms at about 9am. We quickly came across an elderly lady brandishing an inflatable torch and it became apparent we had missed the actual torch. But the lovely elderly lady was so delighted to see us in our uniforms and asked to have photos with us – so missing the torch really didn’t seem to matter any more. We carried on towards the beach and stopped at a beach café for a cold drink. The bar staff seemed very impressed with our uniforms, offered us free coffee and wanted photos with us. A family offered us their inflatable torch so all was not lost. And it was a lovely gesture. It was lovely to be in the sun and get the sand between our toes while watching the surfers.
Then it was time to get off to the park for our first shift. Pam decided she would tag along as she had no other plans. Our host’s son Leandro showed us a much quicker route on the fast BRT bus. Whilst this was a much easier journey it did involve a lot of walking. My fitbit clocked up 10km! On arrival at the park we were due to link up with Jan Onoszko who is out here working with the BBC but more importantly is involved with the “With One Voice” choir project for the homeless. We are hoping to see them sing while we are here and maybe work on something longer term linked to Tokyo 2020. En route to meet Jan, I confidently marched in the wrong direction (not unusual for me). We traipsed along the back of the broadcast centre with its huge satellite dishes and then stumbled on the tennis practice courts. Whilst thinking “wouldn’t it be great to see Andy Murray?”, through the net screening I spotted a figure that just might have been him (welll he was tall, male and had dark hair). Wendy, the only one tall enough, peered over the netting and confirmed it was indeed Andy Murray. She then climbed on a metal fence, balanced precariously while I tried to stop her from falling and snapped a couple of photos. We then discretely waved our Union flags which got his attention. He waved and smiled and we wished him good luck. Fingers crossed we may see him play on Sunday. Having finally conceded that we had indeed gone the wrong way, we decided we needed to get a lift back. Easier said than done. We spotted a buggy but the driver was insistent he couldn’t understand our request. Then a yellow clad volunteer called Allan came to our rescue. He chucked the nonchalant Brazilian off the buggy and drove us back to the main park. Result!
Next it was time for our role specific training. Now you should all know by now that Wendy, Lesley and I are part of the technology teams for the fencing. So the training started with an overview of the sport. To be honest, we were none the wiser at the end of it! It was lovely to meet the rest of the team and make some new friendships. So there are 3 parts to our role: camera operative – where you are responsible for filming all the action on one piste for live broadcast on the internal big screen. Wireless operator – where you are responsible for attaching the scoring equipment to the fencers. And digital display controller. Well the only responsibility there is pushing the right buttons on the computer for the right scores to be displayed on the television screens of 1.5 billion people. What could possibly go wrong!!!!
Off then for our first workforce meal. Rice, beans, salad, beef or chicken and a very sickly dulce de lecce dessert – but it hit the spot. Then home to massage those sore feet. Night night campers xxx
Day 4 from Wendy
Yesterday (Friday) we didn’t get home till around 2am, so Kerry didn’t post a blog. Today she and Pam have gone to work and Lesley and I decided to have a go. Be warned, we may not be as amusing, but we will try our best.
The day started with a relaxing breakfast in our pj’s. Kerry quickly got dressed for her first media session of the day. She was interviewed on radio Essex, it was a lovely relaxed chat in the garden by the pool.
At 11.30 an official car came to collect us to take us to Macarena stadium meet everyone from BBC World Services.
We felt like royalty being driven down the Olympic Lanes past all of the queueing cars! We finally arrived, only to find barriers up everywhere for the opening ceremony. Our poor driver drove around in circles, only to find that the team had relocated to a bar outside the stadium. We arrived about 15 mins before the show went live and had quick introductions. We were very smart and presentable in full uniform for our radio appearance! We met the producer Helen, who Kerry had been talking to and Ben James the shows presenter for “World Have Your Say” The guests included a few Brazilians, 3 American spectators, a Russian ex-wrestler now volunteer, Pam, Lesley, Kerry and I.
The chatting started in quite relaxed mode, talking about Brazilian culture, music, dance, food………
I got a mention in for my dad and his participation in the Commonwealth games and Kerry got a plug in for the choir! We left the serious stuff to Pam and Lesley, talking about diversity, inclusion, the London games being more than just London and the historical content of the 2012 Opening Ceremony.
It was good fun, of course we were the last guests to leave after a nice cold beer.
We were escorted through the masses of police and army gathering, to the metro. ……
Cool and smooth metro ride to Copacabana beach, where we parked in a bar awaiting arrivals.
We were soon joined by (fellow volunteers from the choir) Jenny W and family, Gavin, Martin, Victoria, Jenny H and Colin, Ali, Angela and husband and later on by Anna who was rather jet- lagged. In true choir style, after a few beers and caipirinhas we started singing along with the band. Soon there was a “battle of the bars” going on, with Kerry and Martin running across to the neighbouring bar when they played an English song.
Gavin was in fine voice and very popular with the ladies, he was even asked up on stage to sing. A few tired people left to watch the ceremony at their “homes” whilst the rest of us carried on. The singing drew some attention and Gavin, Martin and Victoria ended up being interviewed by a Serbian tv crew. We enjoyed the ceremony, although it seemed quite short. The lighting of the flame was lovely. If you didn’t know, the last chap with the torch was a marathon runner from the 2004 games who got knocked over by a spectator and went from first to third.
The best bit, as always, was the athletes parade. We managed to sing lots of anthems and did a rousing rendition of God Save The Queen for everyone.
Leaving at midnight was probably not the best idea on our first outing to Copacabana. We weren’t even sure where the bus stop was. Rescued by a fellow volunteer, who suggested we get on the first bus that came to get us closer to home. Distances are big here, after an hour with a driver with a death wish, we were close enough to get a cab back.
One of the highlights for me was the news that my bag and phone had been found and traced to me, by a fellow volunteer!!
Day 5 07 August 2016 from Kerry
It was a slow start to the day after last night’s shenanigans at Copacabana (as documented by Wendy’s blog) for the Opening Ceremony. Pam and I were due at work early afternoon so a wander down to the beach was in order as it was a stunning day. We quickly realised that the men’s cycling road race was passing by on the beach 5 minutes from the house so Pam and I decided to head down to see what was going on. We’d missed the outward leg of the race but were told the return leg would pass by in an hour. We got a message back to Wendy and Lesley who rushed down to join us. Sadly Pam and I needed to leave before the riders came through but not before we’d secured a Union flag to the barriers. It was nice to meet a few fellow UK volunteers too. Skippy (Lesley) and Wendy stayed at the cycling making friends with a local Scot who promised t cook us a decent curry!#random. ……..The road race cyclists whizzed past at breakneck speed (obviously been taking lessons from the local bus drivers). As Wendy and Lesley didn’t spot any of team GB, I assume that none of them spotted our flag! Oh well. Gutted for them that they didn’t get a medal though but given how very hot it was today, I think it was a marvel I managed to walk to the bus stop let alone them riding for over 6 hours!
Pam and I had a much easier journey into the Olympic park but then a long wait at workforce security in the early afternoon sun with no shade! We checked in and headed off to our roles. There was a real buzz around the park on the first day of competition. It was lovely to hear the cheers from inside the various venues. I was delighted to be in the “compound” which meant I was in a lovely air conditioned room on the computed updating the feed to the digital scores shown on TV. A VERY responsible job I’ll have you know. It was so lovely to get messages from friends in the UK saying they were watching the fencing specially. And also to keep one of Jenny’s friends updated where she’d lost tv coverage. It’s a sport I knew nothing about a week ago but I really enjoyed watching it today. At the end of the shift, our new Brazilian friend Edgy (who used to be a high diver at Ocean Park in Hong Kong) suggested we see if we could get in to see USA in the basketball. It’s amazing where a smile and accreditation will get you – in this case, literally courtside! ……….. I then went to retrieve Wendy’s bag. It had a lovely message inside from the volunteer who had found it. It really does restore your faith in humanity. Pam and I then headed back home having clicked up over 13km on my Fitbit!
Margaret - August 16, 2016