No two ways around it, I let the DOB slip at the end of the Games. Typically, I write these blogs on buses and in vans and in bed late at night. (I spend an excessive amount of time in two of those three.) Once my computer died, that became tougher to do. I am so thankful for this loaner PC, but its battery only lasts for about 15 minutes until it needs to be plugged into an outlet. It’s like having a cell phone that needs a landline in order to operate. (I guess they call those “home phones.”)
But now that the Olympics are over and I have a 36-hour trip to NYC ahead of me, much of it to be spent in airports with charging stations, I can catch up on the blogs I missed. I’ll start by answering a few of the questions I’ve received over the past few weeks …
- No, I did not bring you back one of those bizarre yellow stuffed-cat mascot dolls like the one that accosted Usain Bolt after the 100-meter final.
- Yes, I tried. One day toward the start of the Games, Ashly and I walked to the Olympic mega-store, encountered a three-hour line, had synchronized panic attacks and then made the 30-minute return trip to the media center empty handed.
- Yes, the smell is that bad. Canals of open sewage smell like canals of open sewage. But I’m thankful I never got used to it.
- No, I was not pick-pocketed or mugged. But several of my colleagues were. As were many athletes. Johnette had her phone swiped. Raj had his wallet taken. One of our editors, Vic, had his watch lifted right off his wrist while leaving the restroom of the Marriott. That is but one of infinite reasons the Lochte exaggeration was so damn frustrating. It not only painted a false picture of what happened to him and his swim bros; it detracted from honest stories — and deserving sports moments — that were under-reported in its wake.
No, I was not having fun. Not the kind you wanted to believe I was having, anyway. The work schedule, logistics, language barrier, bus issues, location and distance between venues at this Olympics meant no parties, no surfing, no hiking or paddleboarding or morning runs. I did not visit the Cristo, Samba dance in Lapa or see Copacabana or Ipanema beach in the daylight. But there were good memories and great conversations and so, so many laughs. There were even a few glasses of wine and for those moments of mental relaxation, I am eternally grateful. I will remember this Olympics fondly, for the stories I was able to tell and the people I had the privilege of working and laughing alongside. But really, it should not be this hard.
- Yes, I heard about it. Thank the Olympic gods for Japanese pole vaulters and Mongolian wrestling coaches.
- I miss greens and salad and fresh seafood. One night, I had a dream about my Weber grill.
- No, I do not want to trade pins.
The apartment building we stayed in was nice, but I can not wait to sleep in my own bed, on an actual mattress.
- Our apartment complex had a pool (never used it), a salon (didn’t know it was there), a gym (was a regular the first week) and a restaurant (still don’t know where that was) and was a 35-minute walk from the MPC (best part about it).
- It is winter in Brazil. We had a few sunny, summer-like days, but the majority of the weeks were muggy, humid, chilly and this past week, rainy. And holy hell, that wind.
- My favorite sports moments I witnessed in person were the Final Five winning team gold, Aly Raisman’s final floor routine in the all-around, Simone Biles’ floor routines, period, Jenny Simpson’s win in the 1,500 meters, Gabby Douglas’ bar routine in team finals, Connor Fields dropping to his knees after winning gold in BMX, Nadal-Del Potro and Venus Williams semifinal doubles match.
Yes, I wish I’d seen more in person, but at this Olympics, I valued writing time and sleep over all. Venue hopping was all but impossible. Just making it to your event on time felt like a win. Hell, getting on the right bus felt deserving of a gold medal. A silver medal for not being hit by one.
- No, the Olympics were not in Rio. Not really. It was like holding the NYC Olympics in far east Long Island while NBC broadcasts flyover shots of the Statue of Liberty and Times Square.
- I wish I were headed home, but I’m on my way to NYC for the US Open. Next week, I will sleep for three days.
- No, I did not see NBC’s coverage, but I heard enough about it to feel like I did. Yes, I believe the Olympics should be aired live. Yes, I think ESPN would have done a better job. No, I do not believe NBC employs enough women in its coverage.
- My favorite meal was eaten at the Visa House in Copacabana Saturday night, when I went to interview the Eatons and was surprised with a Mediterranean spread. Cucumbers have never tasted that good.
- Yes, I cried when interviewing the Mardini sisters.
- I also cried when Aly Raisman burst into tears at the end of her floor routine during all-around finals. You never know when that Olympic spirit we all write so much about will grip you by the gut. I had one good stress cry, too, one morning after far too little sleep.
- No, I did not cry when my laptop broke. What good would that have done?
- Yes, I will cry when I see my own bed.