I was fortunate to attend the 2016 Rio Games over six days with my husband Lance and the experience exceeded our most hopeful expectations. The clear highlights of our trip were seeing the first medal for USA Weightlifting since 2000, getting to see a few of the track & field events, spending time at USA House, and taking in the stunning views at the Christ the Redeemer monument overlooking Rio de Janeiro.
View of Ipanema Beach from the rooftop of USA House
But first, a few quick observations:
Rio is truly a wonderful city with a beautiful coastline and nearby mountainous peaks that provide magnificent views, and throughout our entire time in Rio, the people were friendly and helpful.
The weather was perfect. Highs in the 80s, lows in the 60s. And despite all the warnings related to Zika, not one mosquito bite during the entire trip.
To be sure, sections of the city are marred by urban poverty which does contribute to crime and pollution including some of the city's water lagoons contaminated with toxic waste. But with the increased security, we felt as safe in Rio as we would in any other major US city.
Although Brazil clearly put in a good effort to establish a public transportation network for the Games, we found that the most reliable and cost effective way to get around was Uber. And it was much easier to get to a venue then to get out of it. Another point, whether you needed to travel 2 miles or 15, commute time on the return trip always seem to take about 2+ hours
Most days began and ended like this.
Now back to the highlights...
Robles wins Bronze!
Our initial inspiration for our trip to the Games over a year ago was in anticipation of a strong showing by USA Weightlifting at these Games. Kendrick Farris celebrated his THIRD Olympic Games with a best snatch of 160 kg and a best clean and jerk of 197 kg. 357 kg total, 11th place finish. Two-time Olympian Sarah Robles executed a flawless 6 for 6 performance with a best snatch of 126 kg and a best jerk of 160 kg for a 286 kg total. Kudos to the Women's team for a solid showing at these Games- two six place finishes from Morghan King and Jenny Arthur (each setting American records), and a Bronze for Sarah, the first Olympic medal since 3x Olympian Cheryl Haworth won Bronze at the 2000 Sydney Games. I am grateful to say that I was in the venue for both of these historic moments.
Preview of Olympic Gold
Although swimming and gymnastics certainly get a tremendous amount of TV coverage, track & field (referred to as Athletics at the Games) will always be a premier event at the Games for us, and it was one of the first events for which we secured tickets. Our Saturday morning session featured preliminary heats for the Men's 100m, Women's 400m, and Women's 3000m steeplechase and a few field event finals- Men's discus and Women's triple jump which allowed us to see Team USA athletes Allyson Felix and Natasha Hastings in the 400m, Mason Finley in the discus, Courtney Frerichs in the steeplechase and Justin Gatlin in 100m. Of course, the star attraction was the incomparable Usain Bolt who would later secure his historic triple Gold three-peat- winning the 100m, 200m, and 4x100m relay.
Signing the Wall of Olympians at USA House
During the course of the Games, the United States Olympic Committee provides an exceptional venue for Olympians, family members and guests to enjoy the Games in Rio in a relaxed and comfortable environment to eat and drink, watch the Rio events on TV, shop for Team USA gear, and enjoy a spectacular rooftop deck overlooking Ipanema Beach. We spent two days at the USA House, and having the opportunity to connect with past and current Olympians away from the events really did create a unique, once-in-a-lifetime atmosphere.
Seeing Christ the Redeemer
No trip to Rio is complete without a visit to the iconic Christ the Redeemer monument. The statue is located at the peak of the 2,300 ft Corcovado mountain overlooking the city of Rio. Simply put, the view is breathtaking. I could try to describe it or point to pictures, but it is one of those rare travel experiences that is best experienced in person. We are grateful that we had the opportunity to do just that.
Overall, it was a truly memorable experience. This was my first trip to the Games since participating in 2000 and I am truly looking forward to making the journey to Japan for the 2020 Tokyo Games.
Photo albums on Facebook (whether you have a Facebook acct or not). Click on the individual photos to enlarge them.
2016 Rio Games - Seeing the Sights
2016 Rio Games - USA House
2016 Rio Games - Track & Field
2016 Rio Games - Women’s Weightlifting 75 kg
2016 Rio Games - Women’s Weightlifting +75 kg
2016 Rio Games - Men’s Weightlifting 94 kg