Nov 24, 2 weeks ago

My sojourn at the Olympics

Rio 2016, Games of the XXXI Olympiad. After a long 14 hour flight from Doha to São Paulo, Brazil, we were greeted at the Guarulhos International Airport by cheering Olympic volunteers in bright and orange uniform.

Our sojourn in the first ever Olympic Games held in South America, had begun. The next day a overnight bus ride took us to Rio de Janeiro, the host city. 

I was selected as a volunteer at the Summer Games along with 20 odd Indians. Going by the motto : ‘A new world’ which in Portugese reads : ‘Um mundo novo’. Rio looked every bit a fascinating city to the 60 K international volunteers who had congregated to assist at the Games. This was late July 2016. 

Located in the Southern Hemisphere, Rio de Janeiro is on a strip of Brazil’s Atlantic coast and its famous beaches of Ipanema, Barra da Tijuca, Leblon and Copacabana will take your breath away..!!

As our work duties at Olympics was yet to begin, my friends and myself could do little sightseeing at leisure. The awe inspiring statue of Christ the Redeemer atop Corcovado mountain, Sugarloaf mountain with its cable car, the iconic stadium of Maracanã, Sambódromo and some heritage palaces are among the noteworthy ones. 

The four geographically segregated Olympic venues were in Barra, Copacabana, Deodoro and Maracanã.

India sent her largest ever delegation to the Olympics in Rio 2016, with participation across 15 sports at the Games. Some of my friends flying Emirates from Dubai to Rio had the good fortune of meeting a few Indian wrestlers and a weightlifter in the aircraft.

I was  posted at Deodoro zone which had several venues that saw games like hockey, shooting, rugby, modern pentathlon, mountain biking, BMX cycling and equestrian happening in them. 

I am writing about two prominent and spectacular sports at the Olympics.

Mountain Bike racing ( Cycling ) :

Mountain biking entered the Olympic programme at the Atlanta Olympics, followed by BMX racing in 2008 Beijing Games. Nearly 100 countries compete at the cycling events with almost 45 nations that took part in BMX racing, track cycling and mountain biking in Rio 2016.

There was  an impressive presence of Indian cyclists at the 1948 London Olympics. 

Mountain biking is a sport of riding bicycles off road, often over rough terrain, using specially designed mountain bikes. The sport requires endurance, core strength and balance.

Deodoro is a military neighborhood in the State of Rio de Janeiro. The otherwise bright skies of Rio had turned slightly overcast and there was a constant drizzle the day

I went to see mountain biking. The cyclists were traversing the mountainous tracks at dangerous speed; having got flagged off from a starting point. The descents and ascents were steep. I am posting a few pictures herewith.

There were helicopters flying in the sky above patrolling the venue. The Deodoro mountain biking centre at Deodoro district is the largest in the world.  


Equestrian : Equestrianism made its Summer Olympics debut at the 1900 Summer Olympics in Paris, France. 

The National Equestrian Centre at Deodoro, Rio is huge with the most modern facilities for man and animal to compete rhythmically, with an eye to the medals.

The horses were amazing, a sight to behold. Some of the beautiful mares were flown in in specially designed aircrafts and on board they were constantly pampered with food and grooming. Some pictures shared will tell my readers how very splendid a sight it was to see riders performing on horseback, smartly attired with coiffeured hair. 

My work as a junior at the doping control office made sure I covered all disciplines of Dressage, Jumping and Eventing.

43 nations qualified in 2016 with special appearance of the Qatari Prince and his magnificent thoroughbreds. The scoreboard glittered with Argentina, Brazil, Denmark, Great Britain, Germany and The United States vying for Gold at the most spectacular sporting extravaganza on earth……!!

India has had some presence of Equestrian at the Olympics towards the beginning of this century. Polo featured from 1900 Summer Games till 1936 Berlin Games. We have a promising young rider Fouaad Mirza, the present Asian Games silver medalist who is trying to represent our country at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. We wish him good luck. 

Article by – Indira Mullick (46 Muktaram Babu St Kolkata 700 007 West Bengal India)

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