As we walk down the famous Copacabana beach one last time it is clear the Rio 2016 Olympics are over. The iconic Beach Volleyball venue is partially disassembled and the Olympic rings that lined the beach in front of the Copacabana Palace hotel have been hauled away. Only the barricades in the center median remain but life is returning to the normal quietness of the Brazilian winter on – at least for a few weeks until the start of the Paralympic Games. For us however, our time here has come to its end so I though it wise to mention a few of our highlights from the last few days here in Rio.
On Friday, we were guests at the Team USA house in Ipanema on a very busy day. A brief encounter with Aly Raisman, the gold medal winning gymnast, followed by selfies with gold medal winner in the shotput Ryan Crouser and Olympian Megan Rapinoe of the women's soccer team. We were part of a celebration for the USA women's water polo team after they claimed earlier in the day. In addition, we also toured the LA2024 exhibit which was quite thrilling and we are hopeful to have an Olympic Games back in our hometown.
The following day we experienced what I believe to be 'the moment' from this Olympic Games – the Brazil men's football team winning gold in dramatic fashion. Barcelona's Neymar scored the winning penalty to send the Maracana into a frenzy and proved that despite derisory pundits, a gold medal in the football competition was far from insignificant for the Brazilian public. There was a tremendous amount of pride in this achievement and it was very much the talk of the city among the locals.
Transport problems then returned on our way to the closing ceremony on day 16. With many roads closed off due to security, our driver took a GPS detour to a neighborhood that tourists were supposed to avoid. Fortunately, the driver caught it and took us to a nearby metro where we arrived safely. Two memories of the ceremony really stood out to us. First, it was when all the dancers created various formations on the stage to show the great landmarks of Rio; Christ the Redeemer followed by Sugarloaf Mountain until it ended with the Rio 2016 symbol. Second, was the exchanging of the IOC flag with Tokyo 2020, followed by the Prime Minister of Japan disguising himself as Super Mario. Quite a moment.
The dance formations from the night before inspired us to visit the aforementioned histories sites in the flesh. Unfortunately, Christ the Redeemer remained closed due to the previous night's storm with fallen trees and rocks in the path of the trams. Still, we had a great time – starting with the botanical gardens of Rio, where a group of 20 monkeys passed right by us. Then, we headed to the Cathedral of San Sebastian of Rio de Janeiro for a tour before finally going on to the Lapa steps and Sugarloaf Mountain at sunset. It was a perfect way to end our trip.
Our Road to Rio has been an amazing journey as we experienced the power and excitement of the Rio 2016 Olympics. We were delighted to share with you our whirlwind trip taking in 29 events in 17 days while tallying just over 139 walking miles on our pedometers. Over nearly two-and-a-half weeks, my wife and I had the experience of a lifetime that we will cherish for the rest of our lives. Our Olympic journeys will continue to both PyeongChang in 2018 followed by Tokyo in 2020. Stay tuned!
Ken Hanscom is a leading authority on corporate sports ticket programmes. He serves as Chief Product Officer at InviteManager, which makes it easy for companies to share events, sports tickets and experiences with their customers while proving the ROI. He can be reached at Kenh@InviteManager.com and @KenHanscom on Twitter.