Nearly 4,350 athletes will call Rio de Janeiro home for the next few weeks as they settle in and prepare for the Paralympic Games. Athletes, along with many more coaches, trainers, referees and officials — plus several guide dogs — have moved into 31 towers and are eating at a massive canteen that can serve up to 60,000 meals every day.
"You hear about all this wonderful Brazilian barbeque all the time, but I’m a pescatarian and can say that all the food has been really good," said Canadian goalball veteran Doug Ripley, who won’t taste that famous churrasco.
In addition to a dry cleaning service, a florist and a post office, the village also has a McDonald’s with a constant line of people waiting outside as others exit with soft-serve ice cream.
Micky Yule isn’t eating any of that food just yet. The Great Britain powerlifter will carefully regulate and measure the protein and fat he consumes before his competition on 10 September. "I’m fantasising about carbs," he said.
Yule and team-mate Ali Jawad were lifting weights at the fitness centre, both of them now slowing their pace to one-a-day workouts to maintain strength rather than strive to build more power and weight so close to competition.
"We’re like cavemen. Give us some heavy things to lift and we’ll do it. We only need a bench and some weight, but they have everything here," said Yule, a former staff sergeant with the Royal Engineers in Afghanistan who won gold at the 2016 Invictus Games and was cheered by Britain’s Prince Harry.
Yule, a demolitions expert, is one of five ex-servicemen competing at the Paralympics in different sports for Great Britian.
The heavily tattooed bomb disposal veteran has ink on the back of one hand that shows soldiers against a setting sun. "Competing here gives a lot of hope to a lot of the guys at home still going through a hard time. They can see us here," he said.
Rima Abdelli, who stole the show with her dance moves as Brazilian entertainers welcomed athletes to the village, got in a workout in the spacious gymnasium.
The fitness centre has 26 treadmills and five upper body ergometers, a stationary cardio machine that allow seated athletes to put in a workout by pumping their hands.
The workout machines can be operated in 19 languages.
Flags and banners flapped from the balconies of 31 high-rises as the delegations staked out a little home turf among the 160 countries represented at the Paralympic Games.
All the buildings include suites that have been adapted for people with an impairment or with reduced mobility. The doors are wider, showers taller and corridors larger. The elevators have room for two wheelchairs at a time.
For the Paralympic Games, healthcare provider Ottobock, the official prosthetic and orthotic service provider for Rio 2016, has also installed a specialist repair centre in the village.
Where the bridge crosses a small stream, the village is divided down the centre by a spacious public area that includes a playground (with teeter-totters!), a skatepark, and a fountain where Paralympians posed and took pictures in front of an tall, blue emblem that reads Rio 2016.
Three Japanese athletes ran by at a good clip, two athletes cycled along a paved path in recumbent hand-bikes, and a Hungarian coach took photos with half a dozen athletes.
REHACARE.com; Source: Rio 2016