Gary Player (Supplied)
My experience at the
Olympics continues to prove unique - and what a time it’s been.
Waking up on
Saturday morning in a strange room and bed, with very little sleep due to the
late night after the opening ceremony, I definitely felt it. At 80, I am not as
young as I used to be.
That being said, I thought
what better way to get my body started than a workout at the magnificent gym in
the Olympic Village surrounded by all the world-class athletes. I felt so
honoured working out among Olympians who represent the pinnacle of world
sport. The Olympics are the biggest sporting showpiece on the planet, bringing
together the best of the best all under one roof. I felt humbled when many
athletes, some I knew and some I didn’t, came up to me to introduce themselves,
chat and just make me feel alive again. What an amazing feeling. I
absolutely love and admire those who take care of their mind and bodies.
Later that day, the South
African Sevens rugby team invited me out to lunch with them. Not knowing what
to expect I got dressed and landed up at a burger joint, can you believe, and
this with some of the world’s healthiest and fittest athletes. Well, I
suppose everybody deserves a cheat day every now and then. So I said to
myself: “What the hell. I worked out like a demon, I’m going to spoil myself and
have a big, fat cheeseburger.”
And what a burger it was!
I don’t often eat
burgers, but I rate that one as the best I’ve ever tasted. We laughed and
swapped stories and talked about everything from sport to life in
general. We all had so much fun over lunch. The Blitzboks really are a
great bunch of guys. While they didn’t manage to win gold for South Africa,
they can be proud of their bronze medal achievement.
I have spent some quality
time with my wife Vivienne and we have enjoyed more of what the city and the
Games has to offer. I was also invited for a breakfast by Laureus for the
International Sports Journalist Association. As a member myself, it was great bumping
into old friends and catching up with the good work this organisation is doing
around the world.
As usual, a great amount
of my time has been spent conducting various media interviews regarding the
re-admission of golf as an Olympic sport. All the channels I was
interviewed by unanimously agreed that golf deserved to be included, after an
absence of 112 years, and are happy to have us back where we belong - part of
the biggest sports show on the planet.
On Sunday, I made my way
down to the Olympic golf course for a team leaders’ meeting which went very
well. Everyone is so excited that the golf event has begun and it promises to
be a world class spectacle with many of the top professionals vying for the
title of Olympic champion. The South African team, consisting of Ashleigh
Simon, Brandon Stone, Jaco van Zyl and Paula Reto, will have to play very well
if we are to walk away with a medal.
Ahead of the start of the
competition, I spent two days at the golf course getting the feel of the layout
and was pleasantly surprised. I must say well done to course designer Gil
Hanse. The course looks to be in superb condition and the greens are quite
undulating. I’m sure it’s going to prove a real test for even the best players if
the prevailing winds blow hard enough.
Until next time, when I
will share my thoughts on the men’s competition which concludes on Sunday,
obrigado, stay well and enjoy the Olympics and the sights and sounds of Brazil.
Gary Player is the most successful
international golfer of all time and is the captain of South Africa’s golf team
at the Rio Olympics. He will be sharing his experiences of the Games for