October 21st, 2016

Warwick student’s skills translate into success at Olympics

Updated: 5:30 pm, Aug 19, 2016

THE GIFT of the gab is helping a Warwick student in her role as a volunteer at the Rio Olympics.

Emily Standen applied to become a volunteer nearly two years ago but did not think she would be picked out of the thousands wanting to work at the games.

But the 20-year-old Hispanic studies student is now in Brazil working as a translator for some of the greatest athletes on earth.

Emily said: “I had been to London 2012 and had the best time because the atmosphere was electric and everyone was so happy.

“I think the volunteers there made the experience complete and thought it would be an amazing thing to do, especially as I speak a little Portuguese it would be a great way to improve my language skills.

“When I applied I didn’t actually think I’d get anywhere so didn’t tell many people until I got the role.”

Emily has been working in the ‘Riocentro Precinct’, where badminton, boxing, table tennis and weightlifting competitions are held.

She works with broadcasters who are interviewing the athletes immediately after the competition, and says seeing the first-hand reactions are one of the highlights of her role.

Emily admits there are some problems at the games, but says Zika virus – which was the reason several athletes chose not to compete – is not an issue.

She told the Observer: “I think the Zika virus was blown out of proportion. There’s not much talk about it over here and I have hardly seen any mosquitoes. It is winter here in Rio and we are not near the rainforest so the chance of catching the virus is minimal.

“I think the main issue here is the lack of organisation, everything seems rushed. The stadiums were still were still being finished when I arrived and there are also not enough volunteers in some places while too many in others.”

But Emily said so far Rio had been incredible, with the chance to take part in a rehearsal for the opening ceremony the highlight of her trip to date.

She has also enjoyed watching Great Britain’s Joshua Buatsi smash his way to the light-weight boxing semi-finals – and hopefully further as he took to the ring as The Observer went to press.

She said: “As a volunteer some of us were able to go be a ‘fake athlete’ during the athletes’ parade. This was such an awesome experience. I got to walk around the stadium four times pretending to be Japan, Kenya, Trinidad and Tobago and then Brazil – not many people can say that. It is a massive stadium though so it’s safe to say I slept well that night.

“I also love the atmosphere in the boxing stadium, it’s electric. Watching the Great Britain competitor was amazing and volunteering at the Rio Olympics truly is a once in a lifetime experience.”