For Olympians, competing in the Games is IT; the pinnacle of years of training and sacrifice. Since the last U.S.-hosted Summer Games in 1996, thousands of athletes have been jetted to far-flung destinations to compete on the biggest stage of their lives. The culture shock upon arrival, though, can be jarring.
That's where the USA House steps in, providing athletes and their families a taste of home, no matter where in the world they are.
In Rio de Janeiro, the USA house is on Ipanema Beach, near the U.S. Olympic Team's High Performance Training Center and key Olympic venues. The 50,000 square foot building features food, drinks and a lot of lounge space for Team USA and their families to unwind. It is a sanctuary.
The USA House also plays host to a special, unique ceremony of the Games. The International Olympic Committee does not formally recognize the coaches of medal-winning athletes. However, the U.S. Olympic Committee honors those coaches with an Order of Ikkos medal. According to the USOC, the medallion serves as a symbol of excellence in coaching.
The USOC started the tradition in 2008 at the Games of the XXIX Olympiad in Beijing. The Order of Ikkos is named after the first recorded Olympic coach in Ancient Greece.
Order of Ikkos Ceremony
Earlier this week, Tim Swords was bestowed the Order of Ikkos at USA House. He coached Sarah Robles to the USA's first weightlifting medal in 16 years.
USA House not only serves as a slice of home for American athletes, it is also a place that the United States can show the world what America can do.
During the Games, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach stopped by the USA House for a presentation by LA 2024, the group trying to secure Los Angeles' third Olympic Games. President Bach learned about LA 2024's visiton of a new Games for a new era. The IOC will award the 2024 Games in 2017.