5 – Magic 2000: working in London and Sydney Olympics

2000 has been a magic year, no doubts one of the three best in my life so far, because not only I moved abroad for the first time, I reached the peak of my career as a sport journalist in one of the best place in the world: Sydney during the Olympic Games.

In early February, answering a job announce where they were looking for freelance to cover week-end games, I have been offered to take part in a start-up in London, leaving immediately. They were the golden times of internet bubble and even if I was enjoying my job at, that was an offer I couldn’t refuse.

The startup was and I stayed in London until the first days of June. I was living and working in Chiswick, one of the nicest residential area, west of Hammersmith, with the Thames just a couple of minutes walk. I was working very hard, often 12 hours a day at least, but in a very cosmopolitan environment and every night I was partying harder.

I was positively surprised when I arrived to find milder days than in Milan, where in january and February temperature drops regularly below 0°C at night.

I must admit though that between pints of beer and awful local food, I put on 5 Kg, that, also because of my more sedentary lifestyle, I couldn’t lose until in 2008 I took a 7 days fasting retreat.

During my free time I hang out a lot with my Spanish colleagues, so I start to familiarize with the language at the point when they ask me where I have learned Spanish I usually reply in London, jokingly but not really.

I was back in Milan in early June, right on time for the beginning of European Football tournament. That was another month that flew away full of fantastic memories. I was working very hard, at least 13 hours a day, but the hour with my colleagues drinking moijtos at La Bodeguita del Medio was enough to pay me back of all this sacrifices. Which sacrifice am I talking about? I was getting paid good money to work as a sport journalist, my child dream, after being a football star, of course.

In August I spent few days on holidays in Greece. While visiting the site who was preparing for Olympic games scheduled held in four years, I had no idea few days later I would be asked to fly to Sydney to cover 2000 Olympic Games. Those September days were the apex of my career as a sport journalist. I was working very hard, at least 14 hours a day, but I was partying harder. I probably slept an average of 3 hours a night, but I was young and I was feeded by massive doses of daily adrenaline.

I was the manager of website “Casa Italia” the meeting point of Sponsors and athletes. Every day I was eating like a king and interviewing the athletes who just won a medal. In a world where internet was still a mystery for almost everyone in the big caravan after the italian sport, I immediately became a trusted reference to everybody there. Italians TV anchorman wouldn’t start their daily show without passing by my workstation and receive the latest news.

And my first impact was shocking! I arrived at night in the Sydney University campus in Parramatta and I had to deal there was no reservation or accreditation under my name. I went for a walk in the campus and saw giants bats, who later find out are named flying foxes. The following morning I was striked by looking at a beautiful girl at the bus stop who was exposing with nonchalance hairs at least 3cm long on her bare legs. I realized immediately why Australia has the nickname Downunder!

The area I liked the most in Sydney was Manly. I wish I can go back soon to this fantastic city and see its real face, because during the Olympic days was simply too good to be true.

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