The final day of my Olympic adventures!
Another early morning as I made my way back to the Barra Olympic Park; thankfully all three of my events were located in the same Park today, so I didn’t have to worry about rushing between parks, dealing with multiple security lines, etc.
MEN’S WATER POLO
Water Polo was a late addition to my Olympic plans; I originally just had two events planned for today, but I decided to add in another event to fill time in the morning. It was well worth it! The game turned out to be much more interesting than I had planned – and it pulled me right in! Best of all: I had front row seats to the event!!
HOWEVER, before the water polo began, there was a practice session for the diving teams going on. Diving and water polo are held in the same arena; the two pools are right next to one another. Needless to say, I was glad that I arrived early so I could check out the divers… I mean, the diving. Yes, the diving… I couldn’t make out who was who, but I enjoyed watching them practice. Their talent is amazing!!
Serbia vs. Greece
9 – 9
Up first was Serbia vs. Greece. I was surrounded by Serbian fans and I was surprised at how many of them had made the trip to Rio. To the left of me were some Greek fans and it was an interesting dynamic hearing cheering from either side of me, depending on who scored, etc. I found myself cheering for the Greek team, for no real apparent reason. The game was very close throughout the four periods and ended in a tie.
Italy vs. France
11 – 8
I was very surprised and pleased when I saw the French team come out to face off against Italy. Before each match, the anthems of both teams is played and I felt a surge of pride and joy when La Marseillaise began to play! The match started off quite well with France performing quite well, but Italy soon began to dominate the match. Their offense was aggressive and the French could not keep up. Despite the French losing the match, it was still exciting to watch.
USA vs. Spain
2 – 4 (after the first period, when I left)
After the second match concluded I was starting to get pressed for time as I had tickets to swimming that was due to start within an hour. Another surprise greeted me when the US men’s team came out to play against Spain. I decided that I could stay for the first period before having to leave for my next event. There were quite a few American fans there to cheer them on. By the end of the first period, the Spanish were leading and sadly I couldn’t stay through the remainder of the game.
I left water polo and made my way over to the swimming arena, which was a massive complex on the other side of the Barra Olympic Park. It was a very nice arena. My seats were in the “nose bleeds” – two rows from the very top. However, it did give me a good view of the entire arena. Sitting in front of me was a group from the UK, cheering on their team with gusto. I arrived early enough to watch the swimmers during the warmup session.
Women’s 200m Freestyle
The first round of heats was for the women’s 200m freestyle which was rather fun to watch. Some of the heats didn’t have a full complement of 8 swimmers. The UK swimmer that the group was particularly cheering for did well enough to advance to the next round. The Americans did quite well too.
Men’s 200m Butterfly
The men’s 200m butterfly was dominated by one man: Michael Phelps. The crowd was anxiously waiting for him to appear, but we had to go through a couple heats before it was his turn. The crowd when crazy cheering for him when he walked out and it didn’t let up until after he left. He electrified the room and I felt rather excited to see him swimming in person again – especially at the Olympics! Back in 2004, after the Athens Olympic Games, the USA men’s swim team tours the US and performed; when they came to Seattle I went to see them and that’s when I first saw Phelps swim in person.
Michael Phelps did very well, though he didn’t come in first; he did easily advance to the next round though. The roughly 2 minutes that he was swimming flew by and I wished that he could come out and swim additional heats.
Women’s 200m Individual Medley
The big excitement from this round of heats was that a new Olympic Record was set by the Hungarian swimmer, Katinka Hosszú. She came in at 2:07:45. Needless to say, when she beat the old record everyone erupted with cheers!
10m Synchronized FINALS
THE BIG EVENT! I spent the most amount of money on this ticket – it cost more than all of the other tickets combined… and it was worth it! Once again I was able to watch the men’s team practice before the event began. I found that the event was actually the finals, which meant that the teams would be competing for the medals this round!
To make the event even better, I discovered that TOM DALEY would be diving for Great Britain. I’d bought this ticket hoping that he would be diving, but there was no way to know that beforehand. I was elated when I saw him name on the lineup! More on Tom later…
To make everything even better, I had front row center seats for the event. I couldn't have asked for a better seat for the event (other than sitting with Mr Tom Daley, of course...).
Eight teams performed in the finals:
When the event began, all of the teams walked out and lined up right in front of where I was sitting so they could be announced! They were facing away from us, but would turn around as their names were announced. I was eagerly waiting for Tom to be announced and had my camera all ready to go... when a fucking cunt douche woman from the US walked right in front of me!! Fucking bitch saw me leaning forward with camera ready and she just barged her way down the row. I swore loudly and she just looked at me. A woman behind me (also from the USA) tapped me on the shoulder and told me how sorry she was for what happened. She could clearly tell that I had a thing for Tom and she reassured me that there would be plenty of opportunities to get pictures. It was very, very kind of her to say that. I did manage to get a good picture of the USA men's team greeting the crowd.
Each team performed six jumps throughout the event. It was amazing to watch these men jumping and flipping through the air with such relative ease. The Chinese team dominated the event: their dives were near perfect. They were in perfect sync throughout and everything was flawless. The crowd loved everything they did. The Mexican team had an enormous fan base at the event, which surprised me (I'm not sure why it did, but it did). The Mexican team did well, though they did have some issues during their dives. The Brazilian team had significant support from the crowd, obviously, but unfortunately they did not perform as well as the other teams. The teams would slowly make their way up the diving platform as the teams in front of them would go. There were four levels: top level for those currently diving, second level for those next up, and so on.
The Russian team:
The German team:
Team USA was the second powerhouse during the event and garnered tons of cheers each time they performed. The two divers blew me away. I just watched in awe as they would dive time after time. They gold and silver medal spots were between China and the USA, no other team could come close to their scores.
Then there was Tom Daley...
The Germans and the British were battling it out for the bronze medal position throughout the evening: one team would pull ahead one round and the other would come back the next. The tension it was building was incredible! I kept snapping photos of Tom as he would prepare to dive and I managed to get several truly great photos. This was the one time that I was hoping for Germany to screw up because I wanted Tom to win a medal.
Fair warning: I took an insane number of pictures. And yes, this is but a fraction of what I took...
I have a video that I'll upload for this later. YouTube won't process it right now.
It all came down to the very last dive of the night, which was for Team Great Britain as they were the last team in the lineup. Germany had done quite well in their final dive and the difference in points between the two teams was down to mere fractions of points.
The dive was phenomenal, but would it be enough to secure the bronze medal?? Tom and his teammate waiting anxiously at the edge of the pool for the results...
THEY DID IT!! TEAM GB WON THE BRONZE!!
The crown erupted with cheers and I was ecstatic! Tom threw his arms around his diving partner and they fell back into the pool in a great display of the joy they were feeling. I looked down to the family seating area and saw Tom's fiance run over to him and give him a hug; it was sweet and wonderful.
The final part of the event was the medal ceremony. The kind woman behind me pointed out that the medal podiums were at the far end of the arena; she told me to rush over there so I could get some great pictures. I thanked her for her wonderful help and advice before running over.
The medalists appeared on stage shortly thereafter and received their medals. Cheers were heard for all three teams: the crown was genuinely happy for them all.
After receiving their medals, the divers walked around the arena so the entire crowd could see them well. Their final stop was with the press, which just happened to be below the seating area I had moved to. I stayed and snapped some more photos before the ushers told us that we had to leave.
By this point I was beaming with happiness! I had just seen the one Olympian that I truly wanted to see perform and he had done a tremendous job. It was incredible! Amazing! Outstanding! It was the perfect way to wrap up my adventures at the Rio Olympics. It was the best event of the Games and there was nothing that could match it. Walking back to the bus station I was just overcome with such incredibly happiness; pure happiness that I've not felt in a long time. It was a happiness that nearly brought me to tears for whatever reason.
But now I'm back at the hostel, packed up and ready to leave Rio tomorrow. I am off to Iguassu Falls on a 9am flight!
I close with a few pictures that were taken by the pros during the final moments of the diving match. Just amazing. :-)