By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The 2016 Olympic Games came to an end Sunday (August 21st) in Rio de Janeiro, but the memories live on in the minds of the millions of fans around the world who watched on television, and more-so the residents who live in the city where 11,000 athletes competed for the gold. After sixteen days of sporting events and celebrations, here is what some locals in Rio have to say.
For sports, there were the olympic and world records set by superstars like Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps and Simone Biles, as well as Brazilian heroes Neymar leading the Seleção men’s football (soccer) to their first ever Olympic gold, Rafaela Silva winning Brazil’s first gold of Rio 2016 in in judo, and Robson Conceição winning the first ever gold in boxing for Brazil.
Yet for Italian expatriate Stefano (Tafo) Macchi, of the Casalegre Art Vila in Santa Teresa, the most memorable moment was the AUS vs USA basketball in the preliminary phase. He recalls, “White men can jump! Australia was leading the game until the last two minutes, [seeing the] USA superstars with fear in their face… [and feeling like] YES WE CAN!!”
Canadian expatriate in Rio, David Drummond, shared his favorite moment. “The women’s gymnastics finals was truly a thing to behold. I have never seen gymnastics live or really had much interest in the sport, but watching those tiny, powerful women launch themselves spinning and twisting in the air was mind blowing. I will never forget it.”
For American expatriate Mike Smith, it was “Watching Mijain Lopez from Cuba take the his third Greco-Roman Olympic gold medal at 130kg (285 lbs). I’ve never had a chance to watch Olympic wrestling, and to see someone make history and join the ranks of the best ever was amazing.”
Yet it was not all about the intense heart-pounding competitions, as Julia Michaels, another American expatriate and the journalist behind Rio Real Blog shared. “My fave was the remote-controlled car that picked up the javelins and brought them back to the throwers!”
Rane Souza, a Brazilian living in Rio shared her appreciation of the spectacular Opening Ceremony, “My favorite moments were the opening ceremony that so beautifully portrayed Rio’s culture with the awesome Elza Soares calling interim, coup-led president a traitor.” Politics aside, long-time American expatriate in Rio, Jim Kappeler, also shared that the “Most impressive for me was the opening and closing ceremony.”
Argentinian expatriate and owner of Rio Hunter, Facu Espinosa, shared, “The best thing about the Summer Games was the possibility to witness all the athletes’ effort and commitment to fulfill their dreams and expectation, […] but I also remember the people, regular people like me following and proudly cheering the athletes that represented their own country.”
Lorraine Coolidge of Discovery Hostel described, “The time went by in such a blur but it left us with a warm sense that foreigners came here and really appreciated the city and saw it with different eyes. I enjoyed our guests coming back and telling us stories about how warm and inviting the locals were.”
American Mark Lassise, a specialist in the foreigner purchase of real estate in Brazil, shared “My memory of the Olympic Games is probably a bit different than the rest … I live in the Zona Norte (North Zone) of Rio next to Engenhão Stadium where the track and field [athletics] events were held. It was great to see foreigners in my part of town.”
Adding, “I have to say parabéns [congratulations] to Rio de Janeiro for the new sidewalks and large security presence that transformed this dangerous neighborhood into a safe one. We hope the police and guarda municipal stay here long after the games. They are still here today, maybe a good sign.”
British expatriate in Rio, Amit Ramnani, director of Ipanema Wealth, shared his most memorable times. “I enjoyed my visit to the British House in the stunning setting of Parque Lage. Team GB athletes were socializing with guests and celebrating exceptional performances across many Olympic events.”
Australian expatriate Bel Casson shared her most memorable event, “Hosting some of the world’s International athletes at the Official Athlete After Party (Clubhouse Rio) was definitely a highlight for me. We had the famous Aussie men’s water polo Team, Brazilian rugby players, the president of the UFC Giovani Decker and more. It was great to see all the athletes letting their hair down after months of intense training. We all had a great night.”
Also thinking about the events and celebrations, DJ and producer Tee Cardaci described, “The Olympics provided quite a few memories and moments that I’ll take with me but DJing up in Santa Teresa when Team GB’s gymnastic team came through, including many of their medal winners, and danced to our tunes, that’s something I won’t soon forget!”
As the the glow of the Games fades and the city of Rio looks forward to what’s next, most residents and visitors will have memories to cherish. Moments in sport, celebration and camaraderie for being part of the first Olympics to be held in South America, and the transformation of Rio de Janeiro.