In 43 days, all eyes will be on Rio de Janeiro as the Olympic flame reaches the Maracanã Stadium, where years of anticipation and preparation will culminate in a carnival of excitement. The U.S. Olympic Committee is sharing its enthusiasm with the world by launching a special video today and showing its gratitude for the host country by championing a number of legacy projects in Rio.
In the spirit of Olympic Day, held globally on June 23 each year, the USOC today launched a new highlight video featuring Team USA athletes and celebrities speaking about their excitement and anticipation for the Rio Games. Among those featured are First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama, Olympic gold medalist David Boudia, NBC’s TODAY show anchor Natalie Morales, Grammy Award-winning artist The Band Perry and more.
Despite being in the middle of preparation for the Games, Team USA athletes are expressing their excitement about competing in Rio.
“I am so excited and humbled to have the chance to compete in a fifth Olympic Games in Rio,” said three-time Olympic gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings, who captured gold with her partner April Ross in March at the FIVB World Tour Rio Grand Slam. “Competition has taken me to so many beautiful places across the globe, but there is something truly special about Rio. I can’t wait to return this summer.”
“There’s nothing like the Olympics – it’s a celebration once every two years, and what better place to celebrate than in Rio de Janeiro, a hub of excitement and energy,” said defending Olympic champion freestyle wrestler Jordan Burroughs. “I’m looking forward to having my wife, Lauren, and children, Beacon and Ora, by my side supporting me and celebrating with me in Rio.”
Enthusiasm for the Games has also spread across social media, where several members of Team USA have shared selfies from iconic Rio locations such as the Christ the Redeemer statue and Copacabana Beach. Three-time U.S. Olympic track and field athlete Chaunte Lowe enjoyed local fare at a Brazilian restaurant during her time in Rio for the official track and field Olympic test event.
“I want to try everything and learn how to make some recipes at home for my family,” Lowe said after asking the chef for his recipe to make the açaí pudin she tasted. “I want to visit Rio with my family after the Games, just to relax and explore the local culture.”
Meanwhile, U.S. Olympic canoe/kayak athletes Casey Eichfeld, Michal Smolen and Ashley Nee already took advantage of exploring the local culture. While in Rio for a training camp, the trio embarked on a boat tour excursion to the Cagarras Islands and took in the sights of some of Rio’s most famous landmarks. Four-time Olympic swimming medalist Summer Sanders will also have the opportunity to experience the vibrant culture and breathtaking landscapes of Brazil when she participates in the Rio 2016 Olympic Torch Relay in July.
“To carry the Olympic torch and the spirit of Team USA with me through Brazil is such an incredible opportunity,” said Sanders. “As Olympians, the running of the torch relay is iconic and a great means to inspire and unite all of Brazil’s cities and towns.”
Tony Azevedo, a four-time U.S. Olympic water polo player who was born in Brazil, reiterated how friendly the people of Rio are to their guests.
“Brazilians are best at making you happy and making you enjoy your time there. Expect a really warm welcome!” he said.
In return, the U.S. Olympic family has made an effort to give back to the community to show its appreciation and gratitude to the people of Brazil for hosting the Games. Brazil Olympic champion and legend Joaquim Cruz, now head coach of the U.S. Paralympic Track and Field Team, shared positive sentiments about his home country during a visit to Flamengo, a private sport club that will serve as one of Team USA’s three High Performance Training Centers during the Games.
The USOC completed major renovations to two of the facility’s gyms, the judo dojo and the gymnastics hall, and added new world-class training equipment. Beyond the Games, the Flamengo facility will continue to act as a state-of-the-art sport club with upgraded amenities. In addition to Flamengo, the USOC has completely renovated two other venues across Rio, which will act as HPTCs for Team USA during the Games, and live on for local use after the Games.
Colegio São Paulo, a school that serves 600 local children, has received extensive USOC renovations as well. The facility will serve as USA House during the Games, and its Brazilian students will return to their renovated school after winter break. These upgrades and improvements aim to contribute to the larger legacy of the Rio 2016 Games and allow Team USA to say “thank you” to the people of Brazil for hosting American athletes and fans.