A Two-Time Olympian Shares What It’s Really Like Inside The Olympic Village


Describing his own experience in the Olympic Village for the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2012 Games in London, Symmonds explained, “When I entered the village for the first time it was so surreal. It’s walled off, it’s secure, you have to go through security. Once you’re inside, it’s very peaceful and you feel protected and set away.”

He also noted that as far as the athlete interactions go, once inside the village it can be hard to determine which athletes compete in what sports and that it can make for a rather fun guessing game. One exception for Symmonds though was with Michael Phelps, who happened to be staying in his dorm. 

If you thought our Olympic athletes were treated to a life of luxury in the dorms, think again. “You’re staying in a tiny room similar to a dorm room. Two beds, you’ve got a roommate, maybe a tiny dresser for your stuff. They’re very sparse and simple,” he says. But rather than any wild antics taking place within the dorm, it’s pretty much all business. After all, you’ve trained for four years to get to that point, preparing for one moment. However, once you’ve completed your events, that’s when the fun starts. As Symmonds notes, the athletes who go first, such as the swimmers, tend to have the most time to relax and let loose. 

“The village gets progressively louder and louder as more people finish. The swimmers let you know they were finished competing. They partied so hard, I remember,” he says, which made things pretty difficult for Symmonds seeing as he was one of the last to compete in track and field. It also explains why in 2012, he decided to rent an apartment away from the village and only went in during the last two days of events. And as for talk of hook-ups?

“For this bison, that never happened,” he admitted. “I was there to compete. The men’s 800m was at the back end of the games. I was focused. As soon as competition was over, I was out of there and on to the next. I never hooked up in the village, unfortunately – I was there to get my job done and that’s exactly what I did.” 

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