Last weekend, Pocari Sweat Singapore organised an appreciation lunch for Pocari Sweat ambassador and Olympics marathoner Neo Jie Shi, 31 – with members of the local running community.
Shared her special experiences in Rio
At the lunch, Neo had a short sharing about her most special experiences at the Olympics in Rio and the things that had struck her most when she had been there.
Said Neo, “When I first got to Rio, what struck me most was that there were so many friendly and thoughtful volunteers there, who had come in from all over the world to give their time to help out in this event to make it a success.”
She added “The volunteers were so excited to see us when we arrived, and they wanted to take a photo with me and some of the other Team Singapore athletes. They were also very hospitable and made us feel very welcome in Rio.”
Enjoyed interacting with other Team Singapore athletes
Neo also enjoyed interacting with the other Team Singapore athletes when she was in Rio. She said “My sport was the marathon but because of this trip, I got to know other athletes in other sports such as sailing, rowing, badminton and table tennis.”
She added, “I spent most of my time in Rio catching up over meals and sharing stories and troubles in our respective sports as well as the challenges and how we overcame these. These athletes inspired me.”
She also got to meet marathon runners from other countries such as Mary Joy Tabal from the Philippines. Said Neo “She did two marathons to qualify for Rio so the Games was Mary’s third marathon this year; it was really tough on her and she had hoped to just complete the Rio Games Marathon.”
Other marathoners whom Neo had encountered in Rio, also included those from Taiwan, Estonia and North Korea.
For her pre-race preparations, Neo had eight bottles of Pocari Sweat which she had hoped to place at five-kilometre intervals along the marathon route.
However she didn’t have the resources to have her bottles placed at each of the hydration points – but the United States head coach and personnel had kindly helped her to place her bottles at the 5km and the 40km points.
Said Neo, “I was so touched to have been able to get their help.”
She added “They also put one of the bottles into an ice pack for me; that was the best Pocari Sweat that I had ever tasted.”
Race day was also an eye opener for Neo. She said, “The start of the race was actually a bit chaotic; we had a one-hour ride on the shuttle bus from the athletes village to the race starting line where they gave us a chip to tie on our shoes. That took some time. Then we gathered at the starting line, but only when I saw people running then I realised that hey, the race was starting.”
She added “But I was glad to be able to complete the race.”
And on the bus ride back after the marathon, Neo added that due to the large numbers of runners and officials on the bus, it was quite crowded. She said, “So I had to stand but it was tiring because I had just finished a marathon; but two other marathoners saw me and they shifted in so that the three of us could share the two-person seat.”
She will never forget the Olympics
Overall Neo says she will never forget her time at the Olympics.
She said “Everything was so memorable and I had never experienced a lot of this before going to Rio. I hope that my journey to Rio has inspired everyone out there.”