Abid Imam

Building up to the Games in Rio


The Olympics/Paralympics are the biggest sporting events in the universe. It was held in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Rio de Janeiro. There was controversy, scandal, incredible feats of sporting prowess, danger, beauty, challenges and charm. What was it actually like behind the scenes, away from your screens? Dave ‘Robbo’ Robertson @mrdaverobbo (Aussie Athletics commentator extraordinaire) joins me as we both reminisce and attempt to appropriately encapsulate the experiences and feeling of being right in the epicentre of the action.

Robbo and i discuss:

  • Best and favourite moments of the Games
  • Meeting Usain Bolt
  • Getting onto the Athletics Track
  • What was safety and security like
  • Muito muito more

Thank you to Rio, Brasil and it’s people for an awesome time!

Selected Links from this Episode

Educate The Favela

Grupo Maracatu Bloco de Pedra – music i recorded in the outro

FOLLOW MOSSY & ROBBO
Insta: instagram.com/mossyandrobbo
Twitter: twitter.com/MossyandRobbo
FB: facebook.com/mossyandrobbo

Dave ‘Robbo’ Robertson (@mrdaverobbo) is one half of the phenomenal @mossyandrobbo  commentary duo who have revolutionised the coverage of sports such as athletics by harnessing the power of social media. Their entertainingly supportive coverage of Australian sport has seen them specially attend events such as the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games. Their popularity amongst Aussie Track & Field athletes and fans was pivotal in the success of the #getmossyandrobbotorio campaign. Robbo shares a world exclusive story of how they have secured their ticket to support the green and gold in Rio,  it involves ‘Brastralia’.

We also discuss:

  • parkrun Australia
  • The art of commentary and Favourite commentators
  • What it was like at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow
  • Storylines and athletes to follow in Rio
  • How Mossy & Robbo made sure they got to Rio
  • + more general sport and Olympic talk

FOLLOW MOSSY & ROBBO on Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

Selected Links from this Episode

 

Nagmeldin Peter Bol came to Australia with his family from Sudan. Now at just the age of 22, he will represent Australia at his first Olympics. He has achieved the Olympic qualifying performance he needed and can now look forward to the excitement of competing on the biggest stage of all.

He shares great detail about his journey, running training and goals.

Selected Links from this Episode

Follow Peter’s journey via Instagram

Peter Bol Facebook page

Peter’s Runner’s Tribe blog

Video of winning his first Under 17 State Title in Little Athletics

Australian Olympic Team Profile

Allen Iverson Documentary

Orange Is the New Black TV Show

 

Melissa Wu is a world class diver who has been competing at elite international level since the age of 13!
She is a Olympic silver medallist and Commonwealth Games gold medallist among countless other accolades.
She will be off to her third Games.
We have a great chat about the sport of Diving, physical preparation, Rio, the mental side of competing and some practical advice.

Selected Links from this Episode

Follow Melissa’s journey via Instagram | Twitter

August 28, 2014. Written for Dead At 30. Big Biddy (@biddyImam) returns with tales of his Brazilian adventure reflecting on everything Brazil travel has to offer including the endless nightlife, bottomless cocktails, breathtaking beaches and the beautiful people themselves…

The Brasil 2014 World Cup Adventure is now complete. The football was amazing, but a big part of the cup experience is what goes on away from the pitch. I can confidently say it was the best month of my life so far. Here are a few reasons why.

Language

Brasil has a very low English proficiency. About 10-20% of the 200 million can speak some of our commonwealth lingo. 99% of the population speak Portuguese. It is a very cool sounding language. If you don’t know it, be prepared to use google translate, speak with your hands or even try making words up that sound portuguesey in a desperate attempt to communicate. Invest in a phrasebook and I recommend the Duolingo or Memrise app to make your learning enjoyable. Once you start catching on to a few words, you start to appreciate how awesome Brazilian Portuguese is. My favourite aspects are the pronunciation of words Red Bull (hedgy-boool), hip hop (hippy hoppy), chocolate (chocolatchy) and hot dog (hotchy doggy). The word you’ll use commonly to express your gratification is Muito Obrigado, meaning thank you very much. Just be careful not to say ‘Mucha Obrigachaaaaa’ like some cute tourists I saw or you will receive blank stares or laughter. The word Valeu (pronounced vah-lay-ew) is pure brilliance because it is used by younger people to say thanks, bye or ok! My test for language competence is if you can hold a decent chat with a taxi driver. Just ask something like ‘Qual é o seu time de futebol’ (what is your football team) and the conversational floodgates will burst open.

Copacabana Beach

Copacabana Beach

Music

From Samba to Sertanejo, there’s a whole kaleidoscope of rhythms with influences from around the world. I felt a big opportunity was lost by FIFA to properly showcase tunes from local talent. Instead they missed an open shot at goal by choosing foreigners for the official World Cup song. My local friends echoed those sentiments and shared with me tunes the streets were enjoying. These hits became the bookmarks of my Brasilian memories . MC Guime – Pais do Futebol, was a song played everywhere locally and represented Brasil and it’s love for football really well, check out the YouTube video. The genre which got me moving like no other was Baile Funk (pronounced Biley Funky). This dance music originated in the favelas of Rio and is said to be the voice of the working class, rhythmically expressing a lot of issues faced by the people. Without understanding many of the x-rated lyrics, I can say the energy at clubs playing these beats were next level.

Parties

Brasilians don’t need a reason to party. My first night coincided with their national teams disappointing 0-0 draw with Mexico. You could assume a quiet one might be on the cards right? Wrong. A street party we went to in São Paulo was bouncing till the break of dawn. Outdoor jams were to become the places to be after games. Vila Madalena in São Paulo, Baixo Gávea in Rio and Rio Vermelho in Salvador were among the prime districts I experienced. What made these so wild was the blatant lawlessness. Public beverage consumption, beats pumping, spontaneous dancing and thousands of people from all corners of the globe mingling in peaceful celebration of a special occasion.

Streets of Brazil are always pumping with party-goers.

Streets of Brazil are always pumping with party-goers.

Food & Drink

Vegetarians beware, Brasil is a meat lovers paradise. The smoky scent of BBQs can dominate a city skyline on matchdays. Churrascaria is a popular dining experience. $30-50 a head for all the meat you can eat, a constant flow of various cuts wheeled and dealed at your table. It’s as good as it sounds. Some of my highlights were Pão de Queijo, which are baked balls of bread with melting cheese in the centre. Coxinha, grounded spiced chicken covered in dough and fried in crunchy coating. Salvador had some great African influenced seafood dishes like Acarajé and Moqueca.

To my pleasant surprise, São Paulo presented the best pizza of my life. This mega metropolis is the cultural melting pot of South America and has a huge Italian community. What made it so pleasurable were the quality ingredients and inventive toppings.

Now all of this great food needs to be washed down. The ever present national cocktail of Brasil is the Caipirinha. It’s concocted predominantly with Cachaça (a spirit made from sugarcane), sugar and lime. There are even entire bars dedicated to the spirit called Cachaçarias. A certain brand named ’51’, sells at $3 per litre and is the closest thing Brasil has in reputation to goon. Bohemia, Brahma, Skol and Antarctica are the local beers of choice. Brasilians insist on drinking these ice cold in cups called a ‘chopp’. While feeling my adventurous self, I was introduced to a native drink called Catuaba. This is made from local tree bark and is regarded to have many health benefits, especially in the bedroom. It is also quite alcoholic and getting more popular among the youngsters looking for an economical buzz.

This place definitely has some exciting food and drink.

Cities

Brasil is a vast country the size of a continent. I strongly encourage travelers to visit a number of cities to properly appreciate its diversity. São Paulo is an economical mega hub with a population the same as Australia. It is straight up gigantic. I thoroughly enjoyed exploring it’s distinct districts such as Liberdade, with the largest Japanese population outside of Japan. Porto Alegre is Brasil’s most southern city and has a noticeable European influence.

Rio de Janeiro is the tourist haven. With beaches, scenery, great weather, nightlife and culinary delights. It satisfies most criteria of a typical vacation wishlist. Salvador in the sunny north-east state of Bahia was the country’s first capital city. Being a focal point of the slave trade in the 1500’s, it now has a very cool West African influence. This Afro-Brasilian cultural blend is responsible for the capoeira dance, amazing rhythms of Olodum drummers and inspires the world’s biggest carnival celebration. Walking through the winding colonial paths of Pelourinho you appreciate the historic significance of this place. You will find accents, appearances and attitudes alternating at each destination.

Each city is like visiting a different country. That’s why it’s definitely worth seeing Brasil from top to bottom.

Rio De Janeiro, now known as Freo De Janeiro

A smashing time was had in this party capital. You know it’s going to be a pretty good place when it’s nickname is Cidade Maravilhosa, or the ‘magnificent city’. It is a photogenic marvel with postcard worthy shots galore. You need a week just to do the tourist spots.  Christ the Redeemer, Sugarloaf Mountain, Copacabana Beach, Ipanema and of course, one of the world’s most legendary sporting arenas, Estadio do Maracanã. These tourist hangouts sometimes resembled united nations conventions of football fans. Away from this, I enjoyed the tranquillity of Barra da Tijuca, views from Leme and street parties at Gávea.The prospect of the 2016 Olympic Games in this city has got me pumped. A great excuse to make the journey back to my new favourite city, after Fremantle.

Rio De Janeiro

Rio De Janeiro

Staying in the Favela

Rio’s famous mountainside favela’s are perched on some of the cities most prime real estate. Approximately 11.5 million of Brasil’s inhabitants live in these high density subnormal agglomerations. A visit is mandatory to see another side to this complex country. Due to elements of perceived risk, many tourists take the tour option and spend a few hours with a local guide taking photos then going back to their plush beachside residences. Once the World Cup was finished, excitement was needed, so I decided to stay at a friends hostel at the top of favela Chapeau Mangueira in Leme neighbourhood, overlooking Copacabana Beach. It was recently pacified and considered quite safe. The one way roads that wind up the steep hills are very unforgiving by car and foot, so much so, even some taxi drivers refused to take me up. It’s 10 minutes of climbing stairs, passing numerous 4x4m box family homes until you reach the top. The scenery is stunning, you’ll see a close community with colour and character. I highly recommend an extended visit to one of these communities to see Brasilian life through a different lens.

Favela views in Rio

Favela views in Rio

Attending a World Cup game

I was fortunate enough to attend four games in category one comfort. Australia vs Netherlands in Porto Alegre, Belgium v Russia in Rio, Belgium v USA and Netherlands vs Costa Rica both in Salvador. On game day there are people everywhere. Traffic, lines, and walks were the norm. Selections of pre and post game watering holes were made more crucial for this reason. The stunning stadiums were protected by a number of checkpoints and sizeable security presence. USA’s match felt like I was at a military gala with marching soldiers, police perched on horses and helicopters circling overhead. Once you navigate through the hordes of scalpers, pat downs, queues and vendors you can make your way to the seat. It’s all worth it as soon as you first set sight on that field of gold. Each blade of grass manicured as perfectly as a Victoria’s Secret model. You take a sip from your commemorative Budweiser cup and think how amazing it is that the entire world’s gaze is set upon that 105x68m patch of turf in front of you. There are selfie’s galore in the stands. AC/DC’s ‘Thunderstruck’ would blast through the loud speakers in every stadium, for every game, to pump up the crowd as the players prepared to walk out. If this didn’t get you going then nothing will. I loved the loud chanting crowds, the local children walking around with memorabilia given to them from tourists, the opportunities to banter with people from nations you don’t usually even hear about back home. It was a special and unique feel-good vibe. That’s the great thing about being at a world cup game. It feels like you’re at the centre of the universe. Nothing else like it.

Estadio Beira-Rio, Porto Alegre

Australia vs Netherlands. Estadio Beira-Rio, Porto Alegre

People

I have saved my favourite for last. The mighty cool people of Brasil. Without generalizing 200 million people, the good folk I met from all walks of life were always welcoming, happy to share a chat and laugh, even if there were language barriers at times. To the gentlemen who are curious, yes the women have stunningly gorgeous personalities and outlooks that are very compatible to us Aussies. While we have touched on a few of the best parts, the saying “Brasil is not for beginners” still applies. Just be on top of things as you navigate these colourful streets. One tip i received from an amigo is to get pockets sewn inside my jeans, making them pickpocket proof. It did give me a great piece of mind in the heaving crowds. There are large numbers unfortunately living in severe hardship. The voice of Brasil’s people is growing and they are rightfully demanding improvements in vital social services. I wish them luck in this cause and hope the mega sporting events they host can create a platform for positive change.

 

I thank my awesome families in São Paulo, Salvador and Rio. Their embrace enabled me to experience the rich culture and fulfill a dream. Now I pass the ball to you Deadat30 readers. Aim to give this place a shot because you haven’t lived until you’ve been to Brasil.


Ellia Green is just an incredible athlete. Coming from a Track & Field background, she made her way into the Australian Women’s Rugby 7’s team in 2013, making an immediate impact with her breathtaking speed, scoring memorable tries. Australia are reigning world champions and favoured to do well in Rio.

Ellia and i had a great chat about her transition from athletics to rugby, the growth of Rugby 7’s and some of her performance tips. It was great to speak to a fellow Aussie/Fijian.

Selected Links from this Episode

Follow Ellia Green’s awesome journey via | Instagram |

One of Ellia’s Amazing tries

Song to get pumped up: Beast by Rob Bailey & The Hustle Standard (Explicit)


Scott Keach is a Dual Australian Olympic Equestrian Showjumper. His selection means he will break an Australian record for the longest break between Olympic Games. He competed at Seoul 1988 and is off to Rio 28 years later.

Scott takes us through the following:

–  An insight into the various disciplines within Equestrian.

– The process of sourcing his horse, Fedor.

– Nuances of mindset and considerations when riding at an elite level.

– His formative experiences riding, how a country upbringing helped.

Selected Links from this Episode

Thank you to Equestrian Australia

Kieren Perkins Golden Olympic Moment

The Olympics are filled with incredible narratives of athletes and their struggles climbing to the pinnacle. Converging from every corner of the earth to represent their countries and communities in front of the watching world. This is what makes the event and its myriad of sports so absorbing.

Here is my take of the storylines i’ll be particularly following in Brazil.

At the majestic Maracanã in Rio. The Opening/Closing Ceremony venue + a bunch of Futbol matches. Sorry about my head.

At the majestic Maracanã in Rio. The Opening/Closing Ceremony venue + a bunch of Futbol matches. Sorry about my head.

Jamaican Sprint Domination!

Usain Bolt will be the athlete in focus of the games. He is on the cusp of achieving the ‘Triple Triple’ (3 Gold Medals at 3 Games). He did it big at Beijing 2008 and entered Greatness at London 2012, winning the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay in world record time with his speedy team mates. In Rio, he can go to legend status. Bolt’s favourite race is the 200m, he says he runs the 100m for the fans and the 200m for himself. The 100m will however, be his first Gold on offer and he has his biggest challenge in the form of USA’s Justin Gatlin, the Athens 2004 100m Gold Medallist who was later handed a suspension for doping. Bolt v Gatlin will be an epic duel and it will set the tone for the rest of the meet for Bolt. Of course, in these sprint events, one stumble or false start and it is over. Mandatory viewing.

Jamaica also has a dominant athlete in the Women’s sprinting arena. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce is the pocket rocket Bolt equivalent of the 100m. She is the reigning Beijing and London 100m Gold Medallist.

I look forward to seeing Jamaica bring the personality, exuberance and raw speed to the track.

Diary date/s (Rio time): Men’s 100m Final – Sunday 14 August Night | Women’s 100m Final – Saturday 13 August Night

Bula Fiji!

Fiji is by no means an Olympic powerhouse, but the people of the ‘Smiling Isles’ will be glued to their TV screens because they now have a golden chance to register their first ever Olympic Medal.

Rugby 7’s has become a growing global phenomenon, so much so that the International Olympic Committee approved its inclusion at Rio 2016. Rugby 7’s is an absolute religion in Fiji. The men’s team play a enthralling, high risk game which has led them to the number one world ranking and back to back World Series titles in 2015 and 2016. The team is led by English super coach, Ben Ryan and are hot favourites. Any success would bring great happiness to the country ravaged by Tropical Cyclone Winston earlier in the year.

If this wasn’t enough, Fiji’s team has come from the wilderness to qualify for the Men’s football competition. The side, coached by former Socceroos player and coach Frank Farina will be coming up against none other than Germany in their group.

Diary date/s (Rio time): Men’s Rugby 7’s Final – Friday 12 August

O Jogo Bonito, Futebol!

Nothing is bigger than football in Brazil. I was in the country amongst the euphoria when they were winning their games at the 2014 World Cup. I was also in Rio when they came crashing down to earth after an unspeakable 7-1 loss to Germany in the semi finals. It is still a raw topic of conversation for Brazilians, so be careful who you mention it to!

Despite winning the World Cup 5 times, Brazil has never won the Men’s Football Gold Medal. They will be calling on their best player, Neymar to help change this. It will be fascinating. One could only imagine the tension if they meet Germany or Argentina.

Amid an unprecedented political and economic climate in Brazil, you can bet Brazilians will be a bit happier about the Games if their football team can make them proud.

In the women’s competition, our Aussie Matildas are primed to make a big impression. I definitely will be supporting them loudly. A medal is definitely on the radar! The Matildas defeated Brazil in the knockouts of the 2015 World Cup and downed 2012 World Champion Japan in the qualification series.

Football at Rio 2016 is being distributed around the country, so players will be travelling just like a mini World Cup. Host cities include Sao Paulo, Belo Horizonte, Salvador and Manaus.

Football isn’t usually a huge feature of the Olympics, but the pure fact it is in Brazil this time will change that.

Diary date/s (Rio time): Women’s Football Final – Friday 19 August 17:30 | Men’s Football Final – Saturday 20 August 17:30

Beach Volleyball on Copacabana

Copacabana and Beach Volleyball will be a match made in heaven. A temporary 12,000 capacity arena will be built on the famous sands of Rio’s iconic beach. Tickets are a dime a dozen, it is a hugely popular sport in beachy Brazil and they have some hot hott gold medal contenders. The prime views will look tops on TV too, showcasing Rio’s prime assets! It will be reminiscent of Beach Volleyball at Bondi during Sydney 2000 and the famous Cook/Pottharst Gold.

Diary date/s (Rio time): Women’s Beach Volleyball Final – Wed 17 August | Men’s Beach Volleyball Final – Thursday 20 August

Little Athletics to the Olympics

Declaring an interest here. It will be great to see the many Australian athletes compete who initially made their first steps in the iconic grassroots sport of Little Athletics. I’ll be supporting Sally Pearson, Kim Mickle, Dani Samuels, Eleanor Patterson, Cedric Dubler, Fabrice Lapierre and the list goes on!

Diary date/s (Rio time): Athletics runs from Friday 12 August to closing day on August 21.

Other Honourable mentions

The new Refugee Team – we will look at this more closely as the Games draw closer.

Legendary Swiss pair Roger Federer & Martina Hingus teaming up in the tennis doubles will be a sight for sore eyes.

Who will light that cauldron???

Jeremy McClure is an inspiring athlete. He is a vision impaired swimmer who has been to 4 Paralympic Games for Australia (Athens 2004, Beijing 2008, London 2012 and now qualified for Rio 2016).
Jeremy speaks about swimming at the Paralympics, what the classifications mean, what his training week looks like and aspirations for Rio.

On Brazilian Bits, i share a story about staying a few nights in a Rio Favela.

Selected Links from this Episode

Follow Jeremy McClure’s journey via Facebook

Abraço Carioca Favela Hostel

Cedric Dubler is an Australian Decathlete from Queensland. He achieved a Gold and Olympic qualifier at the 2016 Australian Athletics Championships in April. In doing so, Cedric became the first decathlete to qualify for the Olympics since Sydney 2000.
Cedric had a great chat about his events, training, social media exploits and some performance tips.
On Brazilian Bits, Fernanda and Lucas share a little bit of knowledge about Favelas in Rio.

Selected Links from this Episode

Follow Cedric Dubler’s awesome journey via YouTube | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Favelas discussed on Brazilian Bits

Rocinha

Vidigal

Cidade De Deus (City of God)

City of God (Movie)