Looking back with pride and ahead with hope
More than 300 people gathered in the British Embassy residence on Wednesday night to celebrate the success of this year’s London Olympics and Paralympics as well as to start spreading out the welcome mat for the Rio de Janeiro games in 2016.
Co-hosted by the new British Ambassador John Freeman (who had just presented his credentials the previous week) and his Brazilian colleague Énio Cordeiro, the cocktail (with caipirinhas to help wash down the invariably high standard of British Embassy catering) drew athletes (able-bodied and otherwise), diplomats, members of Argentina’s Olympic Committee and businessmen among others.
Carla Rebecchi (hockey), Brazilian volleyball legend Giba, Belén Pérez Maurice (fencing) Cristian Rosso and Ariel Suárez (rowing) and Hernán Barreto (a Paralympic athlete) were among the top Olympic athletes present..
Freeman gave some numbers — the record 22 medals of Michael Phelps, Britain’s haul of 29 gold medals (the best since the first London Olympics of 1908) and some crowd figures (80 million for the Olympics and 2.5 million for the Paralympics) — but beyond the statistics and the sporting prowess on display said that the 2012 London Games would be remembered as “the greenest, most inclusive and most accessible in history.” He also referred to British Prime Minister David Cameron’s recent visit to Brazil to set in motion co-operation up to 2016.
This was the cue for Cordeiro to make a light-hearted speech in which he referred to the Argentina-Brazil superderby scheduled for that night, little suspecting that power problems would lead to the match being called off.
Other speakers were Argentine Olympic Committee (COA) vice-president Alicia Masoni de Morea (who described London’s impressive sporting installations as a “permanent legacy”) and the president of the Argentine Paralympics Committee (Copar) José María Va-lladares, who praised the warm hospitality of the London organizers and volunteers.