Perfectly, Imperfect…Rio 2016

I’ve just returned home to San Diego after 41 days on the road, which took me to 4 countries and the Olympics in Rio. I am cherishing home cooked meals and sleeping in my own bed after a very long stint away but more than what I’ve craved, I’m also in a post-Olympics hangover. Rio 2016 was my 3rd Olympics where I was able to work with the best freelance event professionals on the planet. What you see on TV is the best of the best athletes competing at their highest level, but behind the scenes is a city of professionals that are ensuring the Olympics are produced at their highest level too.  It is the people that I have the pleasure of working all over the world with that keeps me coming back for more.

My role at the Olympics has always been with sponsorship activation, which has allowed me to work with the top Olympic partners and their clients. This time, I worked with the P&G Thank You, Mom program, which offered an entirely different Olympic experience. When you are sitting next to a Mom watching her daughter compete in fencing for a medal, you can almost feel the weight of family and country on her shoulders. Or when the son doesn’t medal when he was expected to you feel the air go out of the room. Every family willed their athlete to swim faster, hit harder or fly with perfection on the parallel bars. I cried with families when they congratulated their athletes and moved away to give space when score board didn’t go their way. Few of us will ever understand the sacrifice families make to get their athletes on to the Olympic stage. Being a member of the Thank You, Mom campaign has brought an entirely different Olympic experience into my life; one I am very grateful to have lived.

And then there is Rio….the imperfectly, perfect city of Rio. Few thought they could pull of the Games at the level they did, nor was there much expectation that crime, pollution and corruption wouldn’t be far from sight. But the reality is Rio did in fact pull it off, and I owe that to the pride and joy of the Carioca people. I’ve spent the last month working alongside some of the happiest, most grateful and hard working people I’ve ever met. They came to work with enthusiasm and pride. Many would travel on buses across the city for 2-3 hours each way just to come to work with the P&G team. We worked them all hours of the day and asked for their unending commitment, which they always did with a smile and gratitude. They are after-all, Carioca; a way of thinking that encourages the underdog to succeed. Keep up the good fight, Rio! I’m rooting for you and your people!

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3 thoughts on “Perfectly, Imperfect…Rio 2016

  1. Professor Matthews, this is amazing!! I love this post and all of the pictures you took!

    I hope you are well :).

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