So as some of you may be aware of (or maybe not..), I recently jetted off to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for the 2016 Olympic Games and OH MY GOD, what an incredible 16 days I had. While compiling this blog, I looked back at some of my pictures and videos and to be honest, I am in disbelief I actually done and seen what I have. Since a young age, I have always dreamt of going to see the Olympic Games. I don’t know what it is about it but I am in awe of these athletes and the whole Olympic Games World. More ambitious than ever after London 2012 (I couldn’t attend those games even though they were possibly the easiest Games to get to for me!), I began saving every penny (cent if you are going to be particular!!) I had into the RIO fund and soon, this dream was becoming somewhat of a reality. Next thing I know, it’s August 5th and I’m heading to Dublin Airport to fly to London and then Rio. This was happening. No matter what. I had a little set back 2 weeks before hand but I was not letting that get in the way. I was making a dream a reality. Something a lot of people never get the chance to do. They keep their dreams just that, dreams. Not me. I make my dreams come true. No matter what I have to do. I hope I never lose that trait. I would hate to never have goals or dreams to motivate me to succeed. Anyway, off we go on this incredible trip of a lifetime.
DAY 1 – August 6th 2016
So there was no relaxing for us on day 1, we were straight into our first event and that was Artistic Gymnastics – Men’s Qualification. We were staying in Santa Teresa, which is about 40/50 minutes via taxi away from Barra da Tijuca, where Parque Olimpico is situated. We got a taxi the first day as we were unsure of the metro and public transport situation and we were tired! It was 36 degrees on this day and although there was a cool breeze at times, you felt every bit of that 36 degrees. First things first, you have to take a picture with the Olympic Rings – and we done just that! This was one of the first moments where I realised ‘Oh god I am actually here’. In Parque Olimpico, there are many stadiums, 9 in fact. The venues are:
- Carioca Arena 1
- Carioca Arena 2
- Carioca Arena 3
- Future Arena
- Maria Lenk Aquatics Centre
- Olympic Aquatics Stadium
- Olympic Tennis Centre
- Rio Olympic Arena
- Rio Olympic Velodrome
We headed to the Rio Olympic area for the Gymnastic event and wow! It was insane to see something I am so used to watching on TV in real life with my own eyes.
I got to see my favourite Male Gymnasts: Louis Smith, Nile Wilson, Max Whitlock and Kristian Thomas. Basically all of Team GB.
Unfortunately, we did witness that horrible injury to French gymnast Samir Ait Said, when he ended his vault dismount wrong. Let’s just say it wasn’t a pretty sight and the whole arena was silent. But Team GB were incredible and Nile Wilson’s High Bar (or Horizontal bar) routine was spectacular and it is no surprise he won a Bronze medal in the individual.
DAY 2 – August 7th 2016.
We got our chill day this day. We had no ticket to any games (although I would have loved to have gotten tickets to some particular events but they were ‘sold out’… Mmm I wonder!)
We went to Barra Shopping and oh my, that puts our shopping centres to shame! Over 600 shops! We wandered around and even seen a few athletes spending time with their loved ones and family. Starbucks became my local haunt as it was the only place with decent wifi and it seems the athletes felt the same as I would run into some of them there. This particular day, I saw an Australian athlete, Brock Motum and embarrassingly, I didn’t know it was him until after.
We passed a lot of beautiful local boutiques and one that caught my eye was ‘Oh, Boy!’. The reason being because of this fabulous jumpsuit they had in the window, it had me written all over it. But I sadly left it behind, as I haven’t been feeling overly body confident lately and knew it would just sit and collect dust on my never ending clothes rail at home.
DAY 3 – August 8th 2016
We went to Boulevard Olympico on this day. It is located at the docklands, has many stages, venues of some of the main sponsors of the Olympic Games, several high definition screens to watch Olympic Games and it is home to the Olympic Flame. When we went there, it also had a massive cruise ship docked and we later found out, it was where the NBA + Olympic Basketball players were staying!! There was some incredible street art along the streets as we walked down.
Anyway, earlier that morning, I saw Cody Simpson tweet saying he was playing a gig somewhere in Rio that afternoon and it was free. But I had no idea of where anywhere was in Rio so I lost all hope in seeing him. Well you could’ve just imagine my excitement when we arrived at the Boulevard Olimpico to see the exact venue Cody said he was playing at on the strip. I almost, just almost, screamed.
We headed in the direction of the Coca-Cola Experience, where the gig was. I knew I was in the right area quickly when I saw a few young girls around the place. I need to learn I am soon 23 years old and my fangirl days should be over. But my little heart was so excited and I made sure I was front row!
Before I get into to gig, the Coca-Cola Experience was insane! We got free limited edition Coca-Cola (the bar man was very friendly and asked us where we were from and when we mentioned Ireland, he started singing ‘Brady is on fire..’ and was delighted to have met some Irish people!) You could get pictures with the Olympic Torch also but of course I had only time for one thing!
While waiting for Cody, we got to watch the Australia Vs Serbia Men’s Basketball match and that was probably the reason as to why Cody was late on stage! He sang about 4 songs, short but sweet.
As I was at the front, I could see Ali Simpson and Jake Boys as they were sitting in front of me. I only got a picture with Ali, who is incredibly pretty and super sweet!
But wait for it, the best part was yet to come. Cody Simpson and Coca-Cola gave everyone in the front row FREE tickets to the Women’s Handball games that night. How cool is that? For the rest of my life I can say ‘Cody Simpson gave me free tickets to an Olympic event?’
The two handball games we went to were cracking games! We saw the Netherlands Vs Argentina and Angola Vs Montenegro. We also got home very late that night. It was after 3am!
DAY 4 – August 9th 2016
We decided to go to Boulevard Olympico again as we didn’t see it all. We found the Olympic flame at last. We didn’t do much else that day as we were exhausted from the day before. We sat and had ice cream and watched the Brazil Vs Spain Men’s Basketball game.
DAY 5 – August 10th 2016
This was one of the days I had been waiting for. It was the Men’s 3M Springboard Synchro Final = Jack Laugher and Chris Mears competing. The weather turned to a typical Irish Summer’s day, non stop rain all day! Jack and Chris were in top form in their performances and were leading the whole way, but that didn’t stop us being anxious when it came to the China duo in their final dive as they were close behind the Team GB lads. I was so proud and happy when we found out they won Gold, they honestly deserved it so much. Where I was sitting was very close to the medal ceremony and I made sure I was going to be at the barrier to seem them walking out! I was surrounded by an abundance of Great Britain fans and I did not hide the fact that I was indeed Irish but a massive fan of the GB duo! I went home a very happy girl that evening!
DAY 6 – August 11th 2016
We decided to take another chill day on this day. We opted to go see the Sugar Loaf Mountain! We got the metro to Botafogo and headed to the shopping centre. In this shopping centre, you can go to the rooftop and you can get an incredible view of the Sugar Loaf. We didn’t get to go up the mountain but I don’t think Mam would of done it anyway! We spent day relaxing in the shopping centre and had one of the most incredible Pizza’s I have ever had in the food court!
DAY 7 – August 12th 2016
It was time to go to the Basketball arena on this day and I think Mam was most excited about this event. With both of us having a basketball background, we couldn’t wait for this! The teams playing were Australia Vs China, meaning I got to see my Starbucks friend Brock play (I was super excited every time he scored!)
DAY 8 – August 12th 2016
Because the weather had been a bit overcast, it meant that we had to wait until a very sunny day to see the Christ The Redeemer and this day was the perfect day. The views from the top were incredible. We spent an hour at the top just taking in the wonderful views. Once up there, you can understand why it is one of the 7 wonders of the world. On a clear day, the statue is visible from anywhere in Rio. We got a lovely taxi driver who brought us to a place near to the Christ to get another view of the Sugar Loaf and he even took the last picture for me, to have he Sugar Loaf in my hand!
DAY 9 – August 14th 2016
From a young age, I have always wanted to go and see I was on Copacabana Beach and I have done that. I did however pick a wrong day to go as it was so over packed for two reasons: It was a Sunday and Brazilian Ladies were in the Beach Volleyball final. So I saw very little beach but I was still there. I didn’t go sunbathing or swimming but Mam and I had a few drinks in one of the beach huts and also had delicious food. We also got to watch the Men’s Gymnastic Individual finals – I saw Max win his Gold on Copacabana beach, where did you see it?
DAY 10 – August 15th 2016
At last, I was going to see some of Team Ireland in action and it was off to the Boxing Arena! We went to Katie Taylor’s fight and it seemed like it was all Irish that was in there! Sadly, Katie lost but it was so cool to see her fight. After the fight, I saw Paddy Byrnes and Gary O’Donovan but I didn’t want to go over to them as I didn’t want to interrupt them.
DAY 11 – August 16th 2016
This is without a doubt my favourite day (well apart from the 5am start!). We were up early to go to the Olympic Stadium for some Athletics. We got there at 9am and at 9:30am, all the games kicked off. I always struggle to keep up with events at Athletics as there could be up to 4 sports on any one time! When I bought the tickets, I had no clue what events I would see or who I see, so I was over the moon when I found out the one and only Usain Bolt was going to be running in his semi – final heat. Seeing him run with my own eyes is something I shall never forget. The place was going insane for him. Although, my spirits were damped when Dad informed me Michael Conlon was robbed in his fight as I had planned to go see him in the next round.
After all the events were over in the Olympic Stadium, we headed back to Barra for the Men’s 3m Springboard Diving Final. As wifi is pretty hard to find in Rio and I was nowhere near a Starbucks while in transit to Barra, thankfully, my Dad informed me (once again!) that Irish Diver, Oliver Dingley had made it through the semi finals and was competing that night so I was proud as punch entering the arena with my Irish Flag! Also, Team GB favourite Jack Laugher had qualified also so it was an evening well spent.
Just before the Diving started, Oliver’s Dad popped down to say hello to us and sure we were only delighted!
Jack Laugher was unfortunate not to get a Gold again but he did get Silver, so not a bad evening of Diving for him. But the most important part of the night had to be Oliver. Oliver produced some incredible dives and resulted in him reaching a Personal Best and a spot on the World Series next year. Oh and did I mention he is 8th in the World right now? Incredible! We were chatting to his parents after the event finished and then the man of the moment popped up to see his parents and well, he was ever so lovely to have stayed to take pictures and talk to Mam and I for a while. Without a doubt, my favourite moment of the Olympics was talking to Oliver!
Before meeting Oliver, I managed to to bag myself selfies with Tom Daley and Chris Mears.
DAY 12 – August 17th 2016
We decided to stay closer to where we were staying as I wasn’t feeling great. As I mentioned earlier, we were staying in Santa Teresa, probably the most popular place in Rio with tourists. We went to see the famous ‘Escadaria Selarón’. This was another one of those surreal moments as I have seen pictures of these steps on Pinterest and Tumblr for years and thought I could only dream of maybe getting the chance to sit and take a picture on them.
DAY 13 – August 18 2016
It was another early start and it was back to Olympic Stadium for more Athletics as Irishman Thomas Barr was in the 400m Hurdles race. He was so close to a Bronze medal!!! He did break a National Record. There was some incredible games on also that day, including Shot Put, Relay and various other hurdle races.
Another chill day again and back to Barra Shopping, nothing else exciting happened!
DAY 15 – August 20th 2016
The last day of events for me. It was time for the Men’s 10m Platform Diving Final and I was so looking forward to seeing Tom Daley. He had placed first in the prelims and I was sure he’d cruise through the semi’s into the final… I only found out as I took my seat in the Aquatics arena that he failed to get to the final and I almost cried. I was offered tickets for the Semi’s but refused as I was convinced I’d see him in the final. Minus Tom, it was still an incredible final, a few shocks and it was very close. Qui Bo, who is Tom’s biggest competitor and favourite to win Gold, placed 8th!!!!! He even got 4’s on one dive and you could hear the gasps around the venue.
Before the event, I said for one last time, I would get a picture with the Olympic Rings! This was quite hilarious as Mam was not centering her shot and I was not amused but we eventually got a decent enough photo!
Before I left for Rio, I was warned by none other than Celia to mind out for the Brazilian guys as they would be mad after me with my blonde hair and pale, porcelain skin. I may have laughed at her at the time but it was very true that day! I decided to wear a bit of red lipstick and my goodness, I had a few guys telling me how beautiful I am. I was taken back by it. It made me feel good about myself again!
DAY 16 – August 21st 2016.
And that was it. My time at Rio 2016 was over and we were heading to the airport. While in duty free, a beautiful Egyptian athlete asked me if I needed help (I was waiting for Mam) and then he passed me again and said ‘You are very beautiful, may I?’ and gave me a kiss on my forehead. I was so embarrassed but he made my day! We flew with British Airways, so that meant some Team GB members were going to be on our flight but no one I knew. The main thing about my flight was someone else who was on it. Usain Bolt. USAIN BOLT WAS ON MY FLIGHT AND I DID NOT KNOW. I was talking to the pilot after the flight and he asked me did I get his joke he said on the intercom (He said we got into Heathrow 15 minutes earlier because we had some special guests and when we landed he said ‘The last 100m are always the longest..’ I knew it was an Athletics person but NEVER thought of Usain!!) and when the pilot told me Bolt was in the flight, I could have cried!! Ah well.
I will never ever forget this trip. I still can’t believe I have been there and seen everything I have. I am so blessed to have such supportive parents, they helped make it a reality.
Now, time to start saving for Tokyo 2020.. I have the Olympic bug now! It is Gold Coast 2018 first. What a way to see the world eh?
Hope you enjoyed this blog! I did also vlog the trip and those videos should be up very soon!
Thank you for reading xo