Thursday, August 18, 2016

Rio: 2016 Olympics Update #2

While the proletariat was busy watching their televisions and eating their macaroni and cheese, or whatever it is they do, I was leveraging my elite social connections to score free tickets to Olympic Equestrian Jumping. Alas, I was forced to ride public transport to the event like so many commoners.

You there! Boy! Bring me another mimosa!

Equestrian Jumping
The equestrian event was actually super fun. It was a gorgeous day and the general admission seating paid dividends for an early riser like me. The setting reminded me a little bit of watching live golf -- gorgeous setting, outside, quiet, and olfactory stimulation. Plus, I could hear the horses breathing as they approached and went over this jump.

It was also like golf in that each jump is a little moment of excitement and tension followed by a moment of calm. The stadium remains completely quiet during each 75-second long run.

Beach Volleyball
Later that night I capped off my most fun day at the Games so far by seeing an exciting women's beach volleyball match between Brazil and Switzerland. Each of the games was settled by the minimum 2 points and it went to a third game tiebreaker. The Brazilian crowd was fun and loud and it made for a great atmosphere.
This was Brazil's #1 team and they won the match, but would lose to USA in the Bronze medal game.

The next night I was at badminton. I watched men's and women's singles matches as well as the mixed-doubles semifinals. The highlight of the night was Malaysia beating China in mixed doubles. Malaysia would lose in the Gold medal match to Indonesia.

Two weeks ago I met a Malaysian mother and daughter who were visiting for the Olympics. When I asked them what sport they were most looking forward to seeing, they replied: Badminton. The Malaysian crowd was the largest of the night and so I sat amongst them and cheered along. 

It's interesting to me how each nation watches a totally different Olympics because they each focus on the sports they are best at. The Malaysians cared the most about badminton. The Chinese are in love with Ma Long, table tennis master, like Americans are in love with Michael Phelps and Simone Biles. Hondurans and Nigerians are watching lots of soccer. Russians were vocal at fencing.

Track and Field
Yesterday I benefited from more social connections when I was invited with Debora and her family to track and field. We witnessed history as an Olympic record was set in the men's steeplechase and an American took silver. Also saw the first day of the men's Decathlon and some qualifying heats for women's 800m and men's hammer throw.
The crowd was sparse at 9:30am when I took this photo during the first Decathlon 100m dash, but it filled in well as the morning progressed.

Olympic Attendance
If you've been watching the Olympics you have probably noticed that the attendance has been on the low side. I attribute this to two key factors:

  1. Not many Brazilians can afford the tickets which are often more than $100 for the more popular events
  2. Many global news leaders rejoiced in negativity in the months leading up to the Olympics. All you heard about was Zika and murders and polluted water and athletes accommodations that were broken. That's similar to what the news talks about before every Olympics.
Please stop watching and listening to these large news outlets. Their job is to get you to watch the news, not to inform you. They are for-profit businesses. Period.

What's Next
Friday night I'm going to track and field again to see me some Bolt! I decided to spring for some expensive tickets to see the Gold medal finals of:
  • men's 4x100 relay
  • women's 4x100 relay
  • women's pole vault
  • men's hammer throw
  • women's 5k

Immediately after the Olympics I'm flying to Peru to continue my travels. It's been an amazing time in Rio and I look forward to returning. But I must move on, visa travel restrictions being what they are. I'm going to do some trekking in the Cordillera Huayhuash, said to be the most spectacular mountain setting outside of the Himalaya. Then I'm up to Ecuador for a week on the legendary Galapagos Islands. After that, it's Colombia where I will reunite with friends from Brazil and the States.

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