- The games
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- Take part
Bruno Souza’s lunch in the colossal restaurant at the London 2012 Olympic Village, located inside the Olympic Park in the east of the British capital, is interrupted by a 2.05-metre giant with oriental eyes speaking German better than many native speakers. Wearing the blue uniform of South Korea, he comes up to the desk smiling and greets the distinguished former handball athlete, today wearing the lilac and red uniform of the Olympic Games Organising Committee. He pulls his shirt with the tips of two fingers and points to Bruno, mockingly, as if to say “beautiful clothes!” He says goodbye with a smile and an invitation to visit the South Korean in the first free space in his busy schedule for the two Olympic weeks.
Former peer and long-time friend, Yoon Kyung-Shin, elected the best player in the world in 2001 and his country’s flag carrier at the Opening Ceremony in London, is just one of the athletes who stop to greet the greatest Brazilian player in the history of the sport. At Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008, Bruno had the opportunity to participate on the courts. Now, however, he is a member of the Rio 2016™ Olympic and Paralympic Games Organising Committee “loaned” to the London Games organisation as part of its Secondment Programme.
He has now been working there for one month and observing – now with a technical perspective – the functioning of the set of buildings housing the national delegations for the competitions of the planet’s biggest sports event.
“As an athlete, our excitement is controlled, during the Olympic Games or in our everyday lives. Inside the Village, for athletes, the facilities are enormous. Working backstage is different. For everything to be ready, there’s a lot of work. We do everything to ensure that the environment is conducive for athletes and unnoticed by them”, says the former player, who retired from handball games in 2011.
Former player at the Brazilian lounge on the Olympic Village (Photo: Rio 2016™)
Competitor’s perspective on the Olympic Village’s planning work
Elected the third best player in the world in 2003, Bruno Souza worked for nine years in Germany, which runs the most prestigious handball league in the world, and another three in Spain. As part of the Brazilian team, he participated in three editions of the Pan American Games, winning two, and competed in two Olympic Games. He speaks five languages fluently. At the end of his sporting career, he participated in the Brazilian Olympic Committee’s Athlete Support Programme, which helps competitors to identify new roles and assists with the development of Brazilian Olympic sport.
He then applied for a position on the Rio 2016™ Olympic Games Organising Committee. He participated in the whole selection process, like any professional who applies on the Rio2016.com website. Chosen by the National Olympic Committee Relations and Olympic and Paralympic Village Department, he was sent to London, where he will produce thorough reports. Living “on the other side of the desk”, as he puts it, has been essential to his observations, and it will be very valuable over the next four years, for the planning and operational phase of the Rio 2016™ Village.
“Inside the Village in London, I’ve gone through all the Service areas. I started at the Communications Centre, then I went to the Operations Centre, then the Welcome Centre and the Guest Pass Centre, always spending one or two whole days with those responsible, learning a little about each area”, says Bruno. “This experience and knowhow will be essential. We have other secondees doing great work here and all of this knowledge will be taken to Rio 2016.™”
In his spare time in the busy Olympic Village, Bruno finds his friends in the Brazilian delegation and, from time to time, goes to the Team Brazil building, taking with him plenty of support and good vibes. He’s betting on a great result for the country’s women’s team, which is exceeding expectations on the courts in London. Many of the youngest players have been inspired by him. And not only the Brazilians:
“When I walk around the Village and see the affection people have for me, people from dozens of countries, trainers and players who competed with and against me, in Europe, I see that everything I’ve done has been in the right direction. There’s no better feeling than this. Now I’m one more supporter. It’s a new beginning, but with a lot of baggage, and a reason for pride behind it”, he concludes, without indicating when his Olympic career may end.