I’ve always loved the Olympics. I vaguely remember going to the 1996 Atlanta Games as a child. I remember the excitement I felt when I had the opportunity to swim in the pool used in the 2000 Sydney games. The year Michael Phelps made his Olympic debut. I remember being glued to my TV every night during the 2012 London games.
I always imagined what it would be like to actually attend the Olympics.
This week that dream was realized, and it far exceeded any expectations I had.
I met a person who made extreme sacrifices and overcame adversity to create a better life for his family.
I was welcomed into the favelas, or communities, like an old friend.
I saw one of the seven wonders of the modern world. I walked down the sidewalks of Copacabana with an ear-splitting grin, taking in the music and dancing.
Arthur and I learned that water polo is awesome and, as odd as the sport may seem to outsiders, so is the pentathlon.
I stood in a field with hundreds of Brazilians screaming and cheering as we watched Brazil win their first gold medal in Olympic soccer.
I saw my friend run 26.2 miles and cross the finish line an Olympian.
And, during a 12-hour layover on the way to Miami, I met a silver medalist from the 1998 Winter Games in Japan who now does media for the games.
In conversation, he gave me some amazing perspective on the week.
He told me that during the 2002 Salt Lake Winter games he was working his first Olympics. He grumbled to a colleague about wishing he was competing not working.
His colleague’s response? “These are our Olympics, too.”
Then this man, an Olympian, looked at me. “You worked hard and you worked tirelessly during the Games to share stories with the world. These are your Olympics.”
The 2016 Rio Games were my Olympics.
The 2016 Rio Games were Arthur’s Olympics.
The 2016 Rio Games were our Olympics.
And they were incredible.