Lets stand together. What we can learn from Rio 2016

Four years ago, we were a country on the brink, the brink of something great. Something that brought a nation together, drove motivation for achieving and most of all made us proud to be British. Since then we’ve come a long way, from David Bowie dying to Brexit; at the time our greatest grievance was Boris Johnson getting stuck on a zip-wire. But what do the Olympics really stand for, what is the purpose and what should we be looking to celebrate and learn from Rio?

The Olympics are a set of international sports competitions, that occur every four years. The history of the games harks back to ancient Greece where games were held in honour of Zeus, king of the gods. They were held at Olympia on the Peloponnese peninsula, people travelled from all ends of the Greek Empire to watch and take part. The modern day games as we know them were first introduced in 1896, fast forward 120 years and the games are barely recognisable. We have grown from 14 to 206 participatory countries, competing in 306 events with over 10,000 competitors and 4 billion global spectators .

“champions against all odds”

Each year the run up to the games is met with the usual media fanfare. Both valid and invalid questions regarding the host cities are raised and as a nation we grow tired of the constant press exaggerations. Recently we have seen athletes speaking out, demanding not only silence from the media but also respect for their sports and determinations. After all, the games only come once every 1460 days. From the moment that the cauldron is lit to the last fanfare of the closing ceremony, every minute counts to these athletes. So tomorrow when Olympic torch arrives in the Maracanã stadium and the cauldron is lit we suggest you look closely, spot the passion and integrity in the athletes eyes as they each sing their anthems. A lifetime of dedication and training building up to a single moment.

Benjamin Senior: Stroke Tempo for Counter Editions’ Team GB Rio 2016 series

As a global nation we sit back and watch, we unite to support, spectate and speculate the outcomes of these 14 days. But the games aren’t just about watching the strongest or the fittest athletes of each field, if you dare to look a little deeper you might be surprised to find there’s a lesson or two that can be learned from the olympians who have spent their every moment working up to the XXXI Olympiad. Their purpose. Purpose is an incredibly powerful thing, it provides us with the strength to fight the impossible, to tell our stories, to build our teams and most importantly defining our cultures.


Unlike any games before, the Rio Olympics will feature a new team, a team that is not formed by nation or birthplace but of a mutual position. Welcome the Refugee Olympic team, comprised of ten athletes identified from refugee camps around the world. These athletes will carry and compete under the olympic flag, their anthem, the olympic anthem will be played in their honour. Funded by the IOC the team represents and stands to highlight the global refugee crisis that is on each of our doorsteps, and each with their own stories from swimming for freedom from sinking boats to training in refugee camps.

#TeamRefugees: Champions against all odds via Youtube
“ This will be a symbol of hope for all the refugees in our world, and will make the world better aware of the magnitude of this crisis. It is also a signal to the international community that refugees are our fellow human beings and are an enrichment to society.”
 — Thomas Bach, IOC President

If any of you have been following your favourite Athletes on social media you would have noticed that the Olympics aren’t just for two weeks, this is something people work towards over a life time. The games have been shared around many countries with the goal of braking down barriers and bringing people together, yet social media is allowing us to ‘share’ in a different way. Capturing the tense energy of the sporting action social media is giving us non-athletic folk an insight into the grit and determination there is behind what was once a closed door. Every 4 years we are given the chance to learn about a new country, a new culture, and here we are in 2016 and even more involved in the spectacle of the games than ever before.

As humans the only thing stopping us from achieving great things is the lack of self-belief, imagination and courage to try — yet having a purpose helps us to define our actions. The driving ambition that each athlete undertakes is fuelled by the support of everyone at ‘home’, overcoming those frightening goals and maintaining high spirits. The New Zealand Olympic team have created a ‘Be The Inspiration’ section on their official website for their friends, family and supporters to share their moments and journey towards the Rio Olympic games.


We could discuss the 2016 Olympics hours for on end but instead of talking lets listen, look, see and feel the spirit of the games, celebrate nations coming together. Regardless if your a heptathlete or the local post man we’re all in this together so ignore the press, celebrate the event and be awed by the spectacle. We want to take the Olympics back to it’s original meaning and purpose.

Originally published at cbthbn.com

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