Our Olympic experience
It's the 2016 Olympics and boy were we excited, a once in a lifetime opportunity and we were living, eating and breathing it. I had to pinch myself, we were actually here at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro – wooohooooo!
You could sense the excitement in the air as soon as we landed in the airport. Different country supporters, decked out in supportive attire lined the airport and streets with colour. You could tell the gringos had arrived by the thousands, and I was ready to get amongst it – GO NEW ZEALAND. The vibe and energy around the city was infectious, and once we got to Copacabana beach the atmosphere intensified. Every drink stand and food stop was playing the olympics, they had beers on hand cold and ready to go and my favourite drink caipirinhas for sale - I obviously had to get involved.
On top of that there were live music stages scattered around the waterfront which completely went off at night with gringos and locals alike. You didn't even need to go to any of the games to get involved with the celebrations.
Though we had to go to some games, so between us we chose two sports each; my choices were women's hockey (go the Black Sticks) and handball, because why not. Ryan chose rugby sevens – obviously, and as always boys will be boys so women's beach volleyball was top of his priority list.
First up was rugby, being kiwis surely this comes as no surprise. We were excited for a good result but unfortunately we hadn't performed well in the quarterfinals to benefit a top spot. We sat near a group of South Africans that provided some great banter during the games. Although the atmosphere was slightly lacking during the placing and semi final playoffs, we enjoyed every moment regardless, screaming loudly in support for our men in black who luckly came in top over France.
This was the most crowded event we had been to which we soon realised was due to the Brazilian women’s team being up against Germany which of course pleased Ryan immensely. Even though we had the very top seat in the stadium, it came with one of the best views of the beach as well. We had invested in a Brazilian flag to show our support to the home team so in true Brazilian style we were up singing, cheering and dancing to the point where I thought the stand would collapse at any second.
There was sadly a very small turn out to this event which was a shame but still we were there to support our team the Black Sticks. It was a tough game against the top seeds, the Dutch but we played well and managed to draw which was a great result. Due to this result and a win against our neighbours Australia in the quarterfinals we ended up purchasing tickets to see the girls in the semifinals. The atmosphere here was absolutely infections, it was like all the kiwis came out of hiding to support the girls in black. Unfortunately we were not strong enough to take the win from Great Britain but we still left proud of our girls.
Our last sport of choice was handball, in Ryan's words, ‘the world's most ridiculous sport.’ Though we had no idea what the rules were or what they entailed, we just picked a team to support and cheered along with the crowd. The game was highly tactical and skillful, I wish we just knew more about the rules to understand it but we still enjoyed watching this high paced sport with no shortage of goals.
We get asked this a lot by other travellers and I don’t think we have a fair judgement as the security around the Olympics meant that we never felt unsafe. This could possibly be due to the sheer number of military scattered on almost every street corner and train terminals with guns the size of me.
Overall the Olympics and Rio itself was amazing and it will surely be a highlight of ours for years to come.