London to Rio and back – the legacy volunteers return
Most of our Join In Legacy Volunteers have now returned from Rio, tired but elated at their experiences from the first Olympic Games to be held in South America. Here they each choose their personal highlights of what it was like to volunteer at the Rio 2016 Olympics.
“There were so many memorable moments and experiences that I struggle to choose a favourite: the hours before shifts spent strolling around the Olympic Park at Barra; stopping to take photos for people and just chatting to them; finding out where they were from and enjoying hearing all about their excitement as part of the world’s number one event; working in the VCM with the press, seeing them telling the rest of the world through photos and creative reporting, sharing this amazing spectacle with those who relied on these guys’ professionalism to make it as real as they could, for the whole world to enjoy. And of course being able to watch so much live sport and on the TVs too. Bring on Tokyo!!”
“I will take away so many memories of the international and local volunteers. And of the photographers I worked with. I had an incredible volunteer role of being in charge of the photographers on the lead photo truck where we had a front row seat at the head of the men’s and women’s road marathons.
One very unexpected legacy moment, which will continue back in the UK, was from one of the Brazilian volunteers on my Press Operations team who is teaching English to students in an evening class in his city. While we were working together he asked me one morning to tape a little message telling his students why I volunteered at Rio 2016 and why they should do it. He has now asked me to help him teach a class. So on Tuesday night I will Skype during his class so his students can ask me questions. A marvellous opportunity I wouldn’t think of turning down.”
“I go away with great memories of the volunteers I’ve met and worked with to help make these Games a success – volunteers from Brazil, Russia, Canada and the USA. But my special memory is of working with the Bermudan delegation. They were a warm welcoming group and being an assistant to Carlos Lee, their Chef De Mission was a real privilege. Arleta, the other NOC (National Olympic Committee) assistant and Jonathan, our driver, complete the team. I’m already missing them!
One special highlight must be the middle Saturday at the Olympic Stadium. I saw Mo Farah, Jess Ennis-Hill and Greg Rutherford win their medals. I also managed to get a brief word with Dave Moorcroft before the session started.
“I saw Mo Farah, Jess Ennis-Hill and Greg Rutherford win their medals.”
A stand out experience was a visit to Vidigal, a favela on the coast. It’s safe, has spectacular views and it’s buzzing with life. I met an American and a couple of Greek ladies who took me to a fantastic place to eat. If you’re in Rio, try and get there. Well worth a visit.”
“I have so many top memories: flying out with the Team GB Rugby Sevens boys, my amazing host family, Christ the Redeemer, Froome winning bronze on my shift at the road cycling event, amazing spectators, invites to Team GB House, watching Nicola Adams and the GB hockey ladies win gold with athletes and families at Team GB House, Copacabana beach, the views, sunrises/sunsets and Rio itself.
But my top thrilling two moments are spectating at the velodrome when Laura Trott and Jason Kenny won their golds and Usain Bolt (as well as Mo Farrah, Gabby Logan and Colin Jackson) on my flight from Rio to London! It’s the most talked about topic since I’ve come home. Everything else in between was uber amazing. ?”
“I loved working with an amazing team from 11 different countries within Press communications. Having conversations travelling to and from venues was a pure delight and wonderful stories were shared.
Two events were particularly memorable: The first was working with my Brazilian colleague when he was crying with emotion and delight when the hosts won silver and bronze in the men’s gymnastics floor exercise (in which Team GB’s Max Whitlock won gold). He was explaining how much that meant to his country and then stood for the GB national anthem as he was so happy.
“In our apartment when Brazil won the gold medal in football – the screams, shouting and fireworks from other apartment blocks was amazing.”
The second was in our apartment when Brazil won the gold medal in football – the screams, shouting and fireworks from other apartment blocks was amazing. Ann & I went out on to the balcony to add to their screams!!”
Left to right: Vin, Ruth and Andrew
“I loved my role at the press conference centre, it had many special moments: from visits of top athletes to breaking news stories, IOC daily briefings and final analysis from national committees at the end of the Games. We had a great team and we worked well together.
My favourite moment has to be being the first choice to hold the microphone for the two main Team GB conferences. I felt proud for their closing conference, the press couldn’t find too many negatives.
On the last day we had our final good byes. It was a sad day as I got to know many of the volunteers from all around the world very well, as there was often times when we had no work and we just chatted to each other. The spirit was great and we also had a few socials. I will miss them all.
Straight after my last shift I had a ticket to the closing ceremony. What an end to a fabulous experience! Bring on Tokyo 2020.”
“The best thing about my volunteer role was seeing some new sports and meeting the athletes (and watching one of them, Joe Clarke, win gold for Team GB in the men’s kayak singles), followed by meeting my team, who literally came from all around the world.
I have two greatest moments: seeing Mo accelerate past the rest of the field to win the 10k, and watching GB beat the Netherlands in the hockey gold medal match. It has been a privilege to be here in Rio, to do so much more than I ever expected!”
“I loved every moment of my time in Rio. The best part of my role was to be a member of a great team of volunteers from Brazil and seeing their excitement for the Games. I have been so lucky to have seen so many great achievements from Team GB live – from Mo Farah to the hockey girls winning gold – but for me one moment stands out above all: that was being in the velodrome the night the men’s team pursuit broke the 4,000m world record not once, but twice. The second time was in the gold medal race against Australia – having the chance to see Sir Bradley Wiggins win another gold was phenomenal.”
“The best part of my role was to be a member of a great team of volunteers from Brazil.”
“One of my fellow volunteers managed to secure athletics tickets for Bolt’s triple treble and we took in the atmosphere in the warm up track.
Interesting to see the long distance Ethiopians jogging in a pack in hoodies, chanting to keep warm, whereas the Scandinavian and Eastern European relay sprinters were glowing with perspiration.
“I had some roast beef and a tiny Yorkshire pudding for the first time in two months.”
Thanks to Join In, us Legacy Volunteers got a last minute invite to Team GB House in Parque Lage, looking up at Christ the Redeemer. I was able to watch the BBC vidiprinter to see Wycombe get an exciting 0-0 draw at Blackpool and had some roast beef and a tiny Yorkshire pudding for the first time in two months. Then watched Nicola Adams win gold. It was strange to not be the only person cheering on a Brit.”
Mandeep, bottom left, and the press team
“Working in the conference room of the Main Press Centre was really interesting. I enjoyed the IOC briefings the best, as you got to hear things early and found out what the official position was on different issues.
I also managed to get tickets to see lots of different sports including track cycling, hockey and water polo – and bumped into a few athletes for the obligatory selfie too!
Rio is an amazing place. The train up to Christ the Redeemer was an interesting journey. The rain had just started and the train stopped halfway where a local was selling ponchos. He made a killing that afternoon. The sights from the top are amazing. So many people taking photos in the same pose as him. I stayed at the top until sunset to catch the statue lit up and the lights of Rio down below.”
“I have enjoyed volunteering in a different sport that I knew nothing about and learning the rules. Working on the beach volleyball I had to get to grips with the timing and scoring.
It was great to meet up with some of the other Legacy Volunteers and Join In Director of Sport Dave Moorcroft on Copacabana beach and share a coconut or two.”
“As I write this I am relaxing by the pool in our hotel in the Iguazu Falls, so plenty of time to reflect on a wonderful and enriching experience.
I worked in the Main Press Centre Help Desk and from this perspective the most enjoyable aspect was working in a muti-cultural team supported by language experts from around the world. If I ever felt motivated to learn another language it has to be this experience, as the majority of the people around me spoke at least three languages – and some more.
Being able to assist the world’s press and photographers with their queries was also very rewarding and offered an insight into a demanding job for a very intensive three week period. Long days and late nights with challenging publication deadlines had to be admired.
“I recall some four years ago going to the Rio exhibition in Somerset House and taking a flight simulator over Rio…”
From a sporting perspective, seeing Usain Bolt run in the 200m and how much one person unites a whole stadium of people was a privilege. The roof nearly came off the stadium when he entered and in those moments sport is truly inclusive.
Finally I recall some four years ago going to the Rio exhibition in Somerset House and taking a flight simulator over Rio, flying high over Christ the Redeemer and Copacabana beach. Little did I know at the time that I would visit these sights myself and many more.
It truly has been a privilege to support the first Olympic Games in South America and experience the warmth and enthusiasm of the Brazilian people. They should be very proud of what they have achieved.”
Join In’s Director of Sport Dave Moorcroft, joined the Legacy Volunteers for a quick coconut in Rio!