I have been a super fan of the Summer Olympics since 1984, when Mary Lou Retten won gold on a injured foot.
I watch every 4 years, with such awe and amazement as different athletes from round the world would compete for the chance to be the best in the world. After the closing ceremonies in 2012, when they announced Rio de Janerio, Brazil, as the next host of the summer Olympics, I jumped for joy. Brazil has always been a bucket list item as well, doing them together was an opportunity I knew 4 years ago I would not miss.
In 2013, the Olympics in Brazil was still on my heart, so I started Googling. I went right to the Olympic website and soon realized they were looking for volunteers. I applied instantly. I waited 6 months for the 1st reply. I had been accepted for the 1st interview. This was an online simulation, like a video game, where I made choices about how I would handle different situations I would come across in the Olympic Park. I waited another 4 months before I was accepted for the next phase, webinar style. We met with a leader who instructed myself and 4 other people from around the world on a task to complete as a team. I waited 5 months for the next reply. Each time a different style interview and each time a long wait in between. It was March of 2016, a short 5 months before the Olympics, I received a letter of acceptance to be a volunteer Massage Therapist, on the Medical Team, in the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics!!
I was assigned to both the Athletes Village, polyclinic and the Maria Lenk Aquatic Center. I enjoyed the Athletes Village the most. There we worked in the Polyclinic with all the other medical professionals. We performed massage on athletes who registered for the service or who were referred by a Olympic Doctor or Team Doctor. Our treatment room had 10 tables set up, 5 on each side of the room. We had private rooms available but most of our treatments were given in a sports massage type fashion, with clothing on. We worked with each athlete for about 40 minutes. Not all athletes spoke English, this was challenging in going over the health history form. As well as, not all the therapists spoke English, however, we all spoke the language of touch. We were quite busy providing 10-12 massages an hour from 7:00 AM until 11:00 PM.
Working at the Maria Lenq Aquatics Center, was a different experience. When at the competition site, most athletes were in serious competition mode. They seldom talked to anyone but their coaches and medical team. I did no massage and spent most of my time watching the competitions with the other medical staff. We would need 4 medical staff at each event to sit on the area of play, in case of an emergency. In which, we were only used when the team Dr/Medical staff asked us to join in.
This was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Being able to be a part of the Olympic games alone was epic, being able to work in my profession and do what I do on a daily basis was even more monumental. ~Erin Hewitt – AMTA-MN Chapter President