Rio Olympics Blog: Final thoughts on Rio and the Olympics

The Olympic rings inside of the Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Man, I was at the Olympics.

Even two days after arriving back in Texas from Rio, that still feels like a weird sentence to say. It’s weird to read stories from the Games or to watch replays of the events online and realize that I was there. I never thought four years ago watching the London Olympics before freshman year that I would be at the next Olympics to cover it.

But what a ride it was. It had its ups and downs. It was awesome to be there for history — seeing Sarah Robles win bronze and Evan Jager become the first American to medal in the steeplechase since 1984. There were also the disappointing moments — sitting in the office with not much to do and having to talk our way into the mixed zone are the first to come to mind. But then there were the moments where I had to go out of my comfort zone in order to get the story — covering a sport I had no idea how it worked or even going down to the television screens in the park to watch Brazilians watch the men’s soccer final and write a 1,000-plus-word story for VICE.

Together, all of these experiences — both the good and bad — combined for one experience that I will never forget and will always be grateful for.

As for the Games and Rio themselves, I don’t know what the final impact on Rio will be. They were far from a perfect set of Games (although, has there been a perfect Summer Games), but they weren’t a total disaster like it was predicted in the weeks leading up. Like all things (including Ryan Lochte’s ordeal) the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

I don’t think the legacy of these Games will be determined anytime soon. We’ll have to wait three, six or nine months or even a year for that to really become more clear. I do think that nothing has or will change in the favelas and they’ll go back to being ignored and forgotten about by outsiders, which is disappointing and disheartening. I also think the areas around the Olympic venues, especially Olympic Park, will report a great uptick in business. But it will take a while before any of that is known and we can determine the true legacy of the Rio Olympics.

Thank you, Rosenthal, for both getting the ball rolling on such an adventure (even if it was just a joke initially) and guiding us around your home city. I’m sure we would have been so lost without your help.

Thank you, R.B. for leading the charge on fundraising so we didn’t have to pay for the trip like other universities and for making this all happen.

And finally, thank you, Kevin, for leading us on this adventure and putting up with us for three-and-a-half weeks. Thank you for making sure our stories were the best they could be before sending them off to their respective publications. There’s not another professor I would have rather gone on this trip with than you.

I’m not sure if any of us will be in South Korea in 2018 or Japan in 2020 or even Los Angeles in 2024 if it gets picked, but we won’t forget this experience. The Olympics, whether good or bad, always leave an impression.

Man, I was at the Olympics.

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