It’s often said that athletes are the heart of the Olympic Movement. It makes perfect sense, then, for future organisers of the Games to turn to Olympians for advice when preparing to stage the biggest sports event in the world.
Enter Brazilian judoka Leandro Guilheiro. The double Olympic bronze medallist and three-time Olympian is one of a number of athletes and former athletes in Rio this week offering their insight and expertise to participants of the IOC Debriefing of the London 2012 Games. These include organisers of Sochi 2014, Rio 2016, PyeongChang 2018 and representatives of the three cities bidding to host the 2020 Olympic Games: Istanbul, Tokyo and Madrid.
Leandrinho, as he is affectionately known, has been there, done that in terms of the Olympic Games. Having competed at Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 and London 2012, the 29-year-old is clearly no Olympic greenhorn. He knows what is required of organisers to keep the heart of the Games ticking optimally over the 16 days of competition.
“The Olympic Games are very complex so it is important for organisers to try to understand the vision of the Games from the point of view of the athletes,” he said Sunday, following a Q&A session on athlete experience during the London 2012 Debrief. “The Games are for the athletes and it is important to know how we think, what we think and how we experience the Games. For me personally, I have a lot to offer Rio 2016 and other future host cities as I have participated in three Games and can compare each one.”
For Leandrinho, the London Debrief is an excellent opportunity to not only educate future host cities, but to inspire them.
“Everything is so fresh, it’s amazing,” he says. “You can see how hard everyone (responsible for putting on the Games) works day to day, and this is a nice way to learn, to motivate and to share the Olympic spirit. It’s like growing up together.”
The Olympic spirit shows no sign of abating inside Leandrinho, who has his sights firmly set on competing in his fourth straight Games, this time on home soil at Rio 2016.
“Competing at home would be a dream. My Olympic dream. It would be amazing participating in front of my family and my friends. I don’t know if it’s the weather, the environment, or that everything is so positive here, but I always perform well at home.”
Thanks to the valuable insight he is offering future Olympic host cities this week, Leandrinho is helping to ensure that the Olympic dreams of athletes around the world not only come true, but also live up to their expectations.