Lee Valley White Water Centre helps Rio prepare for 2016

e Brazilian visitors braved the cold
The Brazilian visitors braved the cold

Students from Rio-de-Janeiro arrived at Lee Valley White Water Centre last Friday (7 December) on a fact finding mission ahead of the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The party travelled to London with members of the Rio 2016 Olympic Public Authority and included students from the CEFET / RJ College (Central Federal College of Technology) and was accompanied by Podium, the further and higher education unit for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Bridging the Gap, which trained thousands of young people to work at London 2012, set up the visit as part of its international legacy programme. Led by Executive Director Michael Wright, it is taking an active role in training the 12 students, who aim to go onto work at the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The group examined the facilities at the world-leading centre, which has a competition course offering grade 4 rapids and is designed to be one of the most environmentally friendly in Olympic history, benefitting from a site-wide solar power system.

After their safety briefing, the students enjoyed several runs around the white water course and enjoyed a tour of the facilities. Once back in Brazil, they will tour the country sharing their findings with fellow students in the run-up up to the Rio Games.

The CEFET / RJ College has two campuses based at the Maracana, Brazil’s national stadium which has been designated as the Olympic Stadium for 2016.

Cleto Silva, who studies industrial engineering, said: "When I walked in and saw the size of the venue I was impressed. I think people are going to love kayaking and canoeing. We have two water parks and they are always full, even in winter.  I wasn't sure if I wanted to come here because it's so cold. I couldn't feel my fingers during the first run, they were freezing but by the fourth run it was very enoyable."

Stephanie Bentes, a civil engineering student said: “There are so many facilities here, I am really impressed, this has inspired me to share the experience with other students back in Brazil. I think the white water stadium in Brazil could encourage people to try something different. In the past football and volleyball has dominated Brazilian sport but now there is a bigger variety.”

Michael Wright, Executive Director of Education for the Bridging the Gap Project, said: “As a world leading Olympic venue, we thank Lee Valley White Water Centre for hosting the delegation from Rio and giving them an insight as to how London was able to deliver a safe and secure Games. We hope that this pilot project will be the start of a much wider programme, as we pass the baton to Rio in keeping with the spirit of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

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