ABM: What was Rio like? The vibe of the city, the crowd, the food?
Sonia: Rio was an interesting city. I really wish I'd had more time to explore! (And two feet to explore on. --Editor: Sonia is currently recovering from an injury!) Brazil is incredibly diverse, and with the international crowd there for the Olympics, it was such a mix of people! As for the food, it was almost the opposite. I have never been to a major city with what seemed like such a homogeneous diet. So much bread with cheese! Don't get me wrong, the cheese balls were amazing, but three times a day was a lot...
ABM: What was it like to see former teammates on the world stage?
Lisa: The energy of the stadium was electrifying. Rugby is different than other sports in that there already exist many successful international tournaments and series that lend themselves to crowds similar to those that were in Rio. Women's Rugby 7's on Olympic stage however--the excitement of seeing formers teammates and [their] opposition taking the pitch as ambassadors of those that have grown rugby in the US was powerful. I had goosebumps the entire time the US took the pitch!
Sonia: Absolutely unbelievable. It's an incredible experience to watch anyone you know compete in the Olympics, let alone your teammates and friends…Watching Kelly Griffin compete was particularly meaningful to me. We co-captained UCLA together and spent countless hours training together throughout college. I used to joke that I spent more time with Kelly than I did with my parents during my childhood...In 2011, just after we won our first WPL National Championship together, she told me she had been invited to train down in Chula Vista with the first ever rugby residents. I started saving money immediately for my inevitable trip to Rio in 2016. Watching her compete at the Olympics, realizing her lifelong dream, and witnessing the thousands of workouts and years of commitment culminate into arguably the most prestigious athletic stage, was an unimaginable experience. It was very emotional for me, and I am extremely grateful that I was able to be there to witness it.
ABM: How did you plan for this trip? (Flights, accomodations, tickets, etc.) We're thinking Tokyo 2020 for those of us stragglers who didn't make it out this time around. Did you have to do anything crazy to get seats for the rugby events?
Lisa: We hurried up and waited a lot. I like to fly by the seat of my pants. Parts of the trip that was ok for, but we for sure had flights, housing in Rio, and tickets to the women's rugby... The rest was not as organized as [Chou’s] Googledoc with day-to-day deets.
Sonia: I participated in every possible opportunity to get rugby tickets in the US. I think there were three rounds of lottery, and one or two releases of additional tickets. For all of my efforts, I was able to obtain a SINGLE ticket (of the twelve rugby tickets I requested each time). There was absolutely no way I was going to miss seeing the women's rugby (see above), so I contacted a friend living in the UK to see if there were still tickets available there. A certain number of tickets are allotted to each country, so although the US was sold out, other countries could still have tickets…My friend was able to buy tickets not only for me, but also for many other All Blues and friends who had not been able to get tickets in the US…
However, once we arrived in Rio, there were tons of extra rugby tickets! [It was] very upsetting considering that some people who were unable to get tickets in the US decided not to come. The stadium was about half-empty. So my advice for Tokyo goers - go to the Olympics even if you can't get all your rugby tickets beforehand. You will most likely be able to purchase them there (and probably for way cheaper)!
ABM: Any memorable stories from the fan stand?
Lisa sent us a couple of pictures:
ABM: What did you do when you weren't watching the Olympic events?
Instead of a thousand words, Lisa chose to again send us a picture. It's a great one (we see you Irene!)!