A Different Kind of Olympic Marathon: One Man's Quest to Fulfill a Dream - NBC 6 South Florida
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A Different Kind of Olympic Marathon: One Man's Quest to Fulfill a Dream



    A Different Kind of Olympic Marathon: One Man's Quest to Fulfill a Dream
    Leonardo Fagundes
    Leonardo Fagundes, right.

    Leonardo Fagundes had always dreamed of attending the Olympics.

    The 40-year-old Brazilian, who was born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, missed several chances to attend past Summer Games for various reasons.

    But then Brazil was selected to host the 2016 Games in Rio — the first for a South American country.

    "Now it's in my house," the self-proclaimed sportsman told NBC. "I had all the opportunities."

    Photo credit: Leonardo Fagundes

    Brazilian residents had to register for tickets in January 2015 and then apply for specific events in March. Even before he had a single ticket in his hands, Fagundes requested time off from his job as a physical education teacher so he could be completely available for the Games.

    Tickets were sold through a lottery system before a second lottery phase for unsuccessful applicants began in July. Online sales for unsold tickets then began in October.

    Fagundes convinced three friends to also take off from work for the Olympics, and having three more people entering the same lotteries increased Fagundes' chances of getting tickets to the events he wanted to attend.

    After the lottery phase, the friends divvied up the responsibility of finding more tickets once they were available for sale online. 

    As he successfully scooped up tickets along the way, he became even more excited for the Games. He set off on a mission to cover every time slot of his day with an event and attend as many competitions as possible.

    One-hundred and five tickets and $16,000 Reals ($5,000 USD) later, the former volleyball coach was ready to live his Olympic dream.

    Leonardo Fagundes, center.
    Photo credit: Leonardo Fagundes

    The first two days were easy. On Aug. 4, they saw Argentina and Portugal play in the first round of the men's soccer competition and then attended the opening ceremony on Aug. 5.

    But then the marathon began to pick up speed. On Aug. 6 they attended a game of handball, a judo match and swimming heat. The next day it was basketball, judo, tennis and swimming. The following day he checked off judo, tennis, basketball, swimming, another judo match and basketball game, fencing, volleyball, and more tennis.

    "I'm really tired," he said. "My feet hurt. I sleep an average of four to five hours a night. It's very tiring. But this is once in a lifetime."

    As of Friday afternoon, Fagundes had attended 75 events and only missed three by virtue of time. He decided not to attend another 10 events.

    "I initially didn't have a clue about the logistics of transportation and the distance between venues," he said. "For that reason, I've been forced to make adjustments to my schedule over the course of the Games."  

    The marathoners plan their daily routine the night before, which includes mapping out events, choosing the best form of transportation to each venue and preparing their own food to avoid pit stops during the day.

    Photo credit: Leonardo Fagundes

    "Once in a while we'll stop to eat something at the Olympic Park, but we always take time to buy a beer," he added, noting he's spent upward of $18,000 Reals ($5,600 USD) between tickets, transportation and drinks.

    Contrary to other reports, Fagundes said the public transportation system for the Olympics is vast and efficient. The only real challenge they have faced is with the distance between some of the venues, which are spread out throughout many of Rio's suburban boroughs. Some days, he said, a decision is made to skip an event that may take too long to get to, if it isn't a priority, in order to make it to something else.

    Witnessing so many memorable moments, Fagundes says he can't choose just one favorite.

    "During the opening ceremony, when the Brazilian delegation entered the arena, and then the lighting of the torch, that's what the Olympics represents to me," he said. "But also every time I hear the Brazilian national anthem played, and Monday two Brazilians on the podium to receive medals. Equally momentous."

    Fagundes will cap his marathon of Olympic events Sunday at the Maracanã Stadium, when he attends the closing ceremony. Watch the event live at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.