As I watch the Olympics I can’t help but wonder what it would be like to get the chance to see the games in person. The lights, the patriotism, and the competitiveness make the Olympics a sought after tourist destination every four years. I was lucky enough to interview Talia Milan, an undergrad at University of Texas about her and her family’s experience traveling to the Olympics in Rio.
How did your family start getting involved with the Olympics?
It all started in 1960 after my grandma competed in the gymnastics Olympic Trials. She just missed the team, but from that point on the family’s love for the Olympics began. Then my dad was born in 1963 and so my grandparents waited until the boys were a bit older and started their trek to the Olympics in 1972 at Munich. From those games on my dad and uncle attended every summer games except for Moscow in 1980 when the US boycotted. They even got to run the torch in 2006 in Italy.
Tell me more about members of your family carrying the torch?
My dad and Uncle were able to carry the torch in Italy for the 2006 winter games. At the time I was 10, but being able to say my dad ran the torch is something very few people get to do.
When did you first start going to the Olympics?
The rule for my sister and I was that we had to be 12, so now in Rio I am at my third games, my sister at her second, mom at her sixth, and dad at his twelfth.
What are you most excited about for this year’s games in Rio?
I was most excited just to be in Rio and see the city since it's the first South American destination I've been to. I am also extremely excited about Opening Ceremonies because of the feelings it evokes. It's joy, pride, togetherness, competitiveness, excitement, and anxiety all together. This year we have tickets to US men's water polo which I have never been to before and we also had tickets to the women’s gymnastics team finals where the US took home gold.
How does Rio compare to other host cities?
Like I said above Rio is the first South American country I have ever been to and the first to host the games. Rio received quite a bit of negative commentary with people worrying and saying things. Before most games there's always some worry and stories about how they're not ready, but with Rio it's been above and beyond that of other locations. For my family we always try to be pretty positive and go into the games prepared for the worst and hoping for the best. We are here now and just taking it a day at a time.
Do you have time to explore the host cities?
Since the games are expensive and school starts in August, we only go about 10-15 days. However, for those entire 10-15 days we are usually going nonstop. We try and have at least a day or two of just exploring so we are able to see some of the cities great sites.
What advice would you give others that want to travel to the Olympics?
For anyone interested in going to the games, start planning early! You have to save your money, look into the best options for housing and transportation, find tickets, and read up on the host location. It takes quite a bit of work but I recommend everyone try and go to at least one games. It's worth it. The Olympics are The Olympics for a reason no other event can compare.
Where would you like to see the games hosted?
I would love an Olympic games in South Africa. It would be pretty neat to be able to go to Africa in general. I think it's good to move the games around and have new host cities!
What do the Olympics mean to your family?
As avid sports fans and athletes ourselves the games are perfect. We get to see the best athletes the world has to offer, while also an amazing way to learn about and experience other cultures. We have the privilege of seeing how the world can works together and what people are capable of.