August 6, 2016

Graig (centre) joined by Malaysian journalists Khairi Mohamad of Kosmo (left) and The Star's Phuah Shew Beng.


I have never been a fan of opening or closing ceremonies. But I enjoyed the Rio sensation.

 I started my journey to the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro for the opening ceremony six hours earlier. It is probably the greatest football stadium in the world after Anfield! 

There was hardly any carnival-like atmosphere, unlike the Olympic Park. Perhaps I was there rather early. Was it right to have the opening ceremony away from the Olympics Stadium? Hmm ...

I ended up walking about 3km to find the right entrance. The first thing I noticed was how run-down some of the surrounding areas were. The feelings of the people were made clear, with the words "the Olympics is only for the rich" written on a wall close to the media entrance. I met Malaysian journalists who were also on their way to the stadium. The mandatory selfies and wefies were taken.

The presentations during the show were amazing but when former supermodel Gisele Bundchen made her appearance to the tune of The Girl from Ipanema, it excited many. The carnival atmosphere came alive inside the stadium. And then the real stars of the night came out.

Malaysia was the 119th country to perform the march past and received among the loudest cheers. Watching Datuk Lee Chong Wei lead the contingent filled me with pride. There were another 88 nations that performed the march past but nothing topped the entrance by our athletes.

When Brazil entered, the whole stadium rocked. Now I know what I've been missing all this while.

Let the Games begin!

Graig outside the Maracana Stadium in Rio — minus the carnival like affair.