By Georgia Grimond, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Officials were out in force, volunteers on hand and athletes arrived from all over the world to put three of Rio’s Olympic venues through their paces ahead of next year’s Games. In Deodoro, hockey and canoe slalom competitions took place, while on the other side of the city, in Barra da Tijuca, the badminton courts were in action.
The hockey games caused a flurry of excitement. Not only did the Dutch team stop by to train on the recently opened pitches en route to a game in Argentina, but the Brazilian men’s team took gold after a thrilling end to their finals match against Chile.
The Chileans had dominated the competition, previously beating Mexico 6-1, but Brazil beat them 3-2 on penalties on Saturday November 28th. Trinidad and Tobago defeated Mexico 3-1 to take third place.
In the women’s competition Brazil was beaten in an early round 2-1 by Barbados. The Caribbean nation then played solidly to score a 3-0 victory against Peru in the final. Paraguay denied Brazil a place on the podium and took third place.
Visitors to the venue admired the new pitch which has been designed in the colors of the Brazilian flag. The surface is a bright blue, with a green border and white lines. Heavy rainfall tested the new pitch and sped up the pace of the wet games.
At Riocentro Pavilion 4 in Barra, the badminton courts were put to the test during a warm-up event that came to an end on Sunday November 29th. The Chinese dominated the competitions with Lin Dan taking gold in the men’s singles, Shen Yaying winning the women’s singles and the country’s players also triumphing in the men’s and women’s doubles titles.
Organizers were asked to look into the air conditioning after players voiced concerns about the air flow in the arena. The air circulation has been brought up after previous events in the venue and tests are being run to ensure that conditions are optimal in 2016.
On November 26th the Whitewater stadium in Deodoro was officially inaugurated. The course was opened by International Olympics Committee executives and Rio state governor Luiz Fernando Bigfoot, as well as officials from the Ministry of Sport. Early feedback was positive; the course was said to be beautiful, demanding and challenging.