Rio vol­un­teer tells of her Olympics ex­pe­ri­ence

Lon­don Games Maker Eleanora Mur­phy re­cently at­tended the Rio 2016 Olympics af­ter be­ing of­fered her dream job of an in­ter­preter. Here, the lab­o­ra­tory nurse doc­u­ments her un­for­get­table ex­pe­ri­ence

Harefield Gazette - - FRONT PAGE -

BE­ING part of the 30th Olympic Games at Lon­don 2012 was in­cred­i­bly spe­cial for so many of us as the 70,000 Games Mak­ers that, af­ter such an ex­pe­ri­ence, I and many oth­ers de­cided to ap­ply to vol­un­teer for Rio 2016.

I was one of the lucky ones. Af­ter an on­line in­ter­view and sev­eral tests to prove that I was as good at other lan­guages as I claimed to be (I have an hon­ours de­gree in French and Ger­man and I also speak Span­ish), I was of­fered my dream role, in­ter­pret­ing for the me­dia at Deodoro Sta­dium.

There was no way I was go­ing to turn down such a unique op­por­tu­nity, es­pe­cially if it meant the chance to travel to some­where new and use my lan­guages. Given the dis­tance be­tween Lon­don and Rio de Janeiro, most of my train­ing for the role was done on­line be­fore­hand.

Be­fore I knew it, the time came to book my flight and this is where the fun and games started.

The air­line man­aged to take pay­ment for my flight twice, and then took two months to re­fund me, so two weeks be­fore I was due to fly more than seven thou­sand miles south of Lon­don, I had no ticket.

For­tu­nately, by then, my lovely man­ager for the Games, Pe­dro, had made con­tact with me and helped me enor­mously to sort the prob­lem out, re­sult­ing in a free up­grade to busi­ness class.

When I fi­nally got to Sao Paolo, I was fast tracked through im­mi­gra­tion and cus­toms be­cause of my link to the Games, and even though this was stan­dard treat­ment for every­one in the Games, it didn’t stop me from feel­ing like a mi­nor celebrity, at least for a few min­utes.

As I col­lected my bright yel­low Games Maker uni­form, I had many happy mem­o­ries of do­ing the same at Lon­don. Although, when I wore it for the first time, I felt a bit like a jaun­diced Oom­pah Loom­pah, es­pe­cially as I have such pale skin in com­par­i­son with my Brazil­ian coun­ter­parts, who all look amaz­ing in yel­low.

I fi­nally met my man­ager, Pe­dro, at the venue, who was very warm and went out of his way to put me at ease, tak­ing great lengths to show me all around the ar­eas where I would be work­ing and ex­plain what would be ex­pected of me.

With ev­ery shift af­ter that, I was greeted with a huge smile and a hug, ex­actly what I needed to start the day in a good mood.

Be­fore my first shift, I had the chance to go and see the dress re­hearsal of the open­ing cer­e­mony at the Mara­caná sta­dium.

As I missed out on this op­por­tu­nity at Lon­don, I was very ex­cited to be able to watch the live show and was not fussed that it was a re­hearsal.

I stayed in and saw the ac­tual cer­e­mony on the tele­vi­sion though, and found that some of the ef­fects worked much bet­ter on the tele­vi­sion screen than on the stage. Of course, we were reg­u­larly asked to ‘keep the sur­prise’, so even though I and prob­a­bly most other spec­ta­tors took lots of pho­to­graphs, I man­aged to re­sist the urge to post the pho­tos un­til af­ter the ac­tual cer­e­mony had been broad­cast.

Work fi­nally started and, given my com­plete non sense of di­rec­tion, I ar­rived very early for my first shift rather than take the risk of let­ting peo­ple down and be­ing late.

Deodoro Sta­dium is based on an army bar­racks, so se­cu­rity is pretty tight, just as we had vis­i­bly height­ened se­cu­rity at Lon­don 2012, but of course the typ­i­cal woman in me can’t re­sist ad­mir­ing a man in uni­form.

The soldiers all look in in­cred­i­bly smart and one th thing I found re­ally im im­pres­sive was that they ar are all re­quired to dis­play th their blood group on their un uni­form.

This makes such per­fect se sense to me, as it is one of th the most im­por­tant things to know in case of a m med­i­cal emer­gency.

My first big job was to in in­ter­pret an in­ter­view from Sp Span­ish to English with th the cap­tain of the Ecuado­rian women’s ru rugby sev­ens team for OBC (Olympic Broad­cast­ing Com­pany).

They had just been beaten 55-0 by the Aus­tralians, and in spite of this it was a great match to watch.

She was very gra­cious in de­feat, although part of me wished that she could have spo­ken a lit­tle bit more slowly, so I could get ab­so­lutely all the salient points of the in­ter­view.

Given that I have hardly spo­ken Span­ish in al­most 20 years though, I was still pretty pleased with my­self, and how I per­formed.

Dur­ing a shift, I be­came un­well and my lovely man­ager came to the res­cue.

He took me to get looked af­ter, in­sist­ing I should just re­lax and stay calm, be­cause ‘I’m the trans­la­tor now’ as he said.

For­tu­nately it was noth­ing more serious than ‘the poor lit­tle white girl not cop­ing so well with our trop­i­cal heat’, which brought the smile back to my face at a mo­ment when I was close to tears.

It’s al­most im­pos­si­ble to be­lieve that it’s win­ter here in Rio, as it’s of­ten 30 de­grees or warmer.

It was just an­other of the many times I ex­pe­ri­enced the Brazil­ian warmth and kind­ness.

I have had the priv­i­lege of meet­ing some fa­mous Brits too. John In­verdale, Sir Matthew Pin­sent and Sir Clive Woodward were all charm­ing and very gen­er­ous with their time, chat­ting about the Games and life back home in the UK as if I and they had known each other for years.

I came to Brazil with maybe half a dozen words of Por­tuguese and af­ter just a few days I was bale to hold an en­tire short con­ver­sa­tion in the lan­guage.

Even with three other lan­guages un­der my belt, I have sur­prised my­self with the speed at which I am learn­ing.

I have been made to feel ‘amaz­ing won­der­ful and fab­u­lous’ as one per­son de­scribed me when in­tro­duc­ing me to a new col­league.

I have met count­less peo­ple, made many new friends and ab­so­lutely had the time of my life.

I can hon­estly say that the de­ci­sion to work my socks off to af­ford this trip to Rio and have this in­cred­i­ble and sur­real ex­pe­ri­ence is the best thing I have ever done, and I will never for­get it.

n EX­PE­RI­ENCE: Eleanora Mur­phy (far right) with fel­low in­ter­preters; (left) pic­tured with her man­ager Pe­dro

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