As we celebrate the opening of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, a few lucky global Cisco employees experienced the opportunity of a lifetime this summer as they participated in the official Torch Relay in Brazil.
Chosen as Cisco Olympians in a company-wide contest last fall, Luis Puig (Brazil), Eli Banay (Israel), Tunji Akintokun (U.K.) and Bee Lin (U.S., via proxy Fabiano Carneiro) each recently completed their leg of the Torch Relay – and it was an experience that they will never forget.
Luis Puig, a Sao Paulo native, was honored to carry the Olympic Torch this past May in Brasilia, on the first day it was in the country. For Luis, it was an emotional experience to represent his company, his family, and his home country during the Relay.
“I can’t describe the emotion,” Luis said. “I was honored and proud to have the opportunity of carrying the Torch in my home country.”
Luis fondly remembers meeting all of the other Torch Bearers, trading stories and hearing about everyone’s incredible experiences.
“You feel a great environment and energy during the preparation with the other torchbearers and in the bus, where we could share our stories and see many people cheering on the streets. Finally, when you are there, waiting for your turn, you have the opportunity to talk to many people who want to touch the Torch, take pictures and participate in that moment.”
A former member of the Brazilian National Handball Team, Luis cherished the memories and experience with his family – wife Beatriz and daughters Teresa and Carolina.
Eli Banay, who found out just last month that he would participating in the Olympic Torch Relay, journeyed to Sao Paolo to take his turn with the torch on July 21.
“This was truly a once-in-a-lifetime exciting, sentimental and emotional moment for me,” Eli said. “It was without a doubt the greatest recognition I could receive from Cisco, and I was so proud to represent this amazing company in the Torch Relay. This is a true demonstration of the Cisco People Deal!”
Eli and his wife spent 10 days in Brazil, highlighted by his Torch Relay experience. Among many other incredible experiences in his life, including climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro and running the Berlin Marathon, this one may top the list for Eli.
Tunji Akintokun, a London resident with a lifelong passion for the Olympic Games, fulfilled a long-time dream when he carried the Olympic Torch in Sao Paolo on July 23. Accompanied by his wife Lorna, Tunji’s experience was a moment of personal pride and great joy to represent Cisco in such a way.
“I can’t even begin to express my feelings, but I am sure over time…it will always bring a smile to my face and a sense of pride and joy,” Tunji said. “Thank you so much for the opportunity.”
Tunji’s experience in Rio marks his seventh trip to the Olympic Games – missing only the 2008 Games in Beijing since 1984. His participation in the official Torch Relay may make this journey even a little more special.
Bee Lin, a California native with an infectious smile, positive attitude and love for life, was slated to run in the Olympic Torch Relay on July 29 in Petrópolis. But bravely battling stomach cancer, Bee was unfortunately unable to make the trip. Fabiano Carneiro, a member of Cisco’s Rio 2016 IT Team, was chosen to run on her behalf.
“It was an honor to carry the Torch on behalf of Bee Lin,” Fabiano said. “This was a great moment in my life and an indescribable feeling at the moment the torch was on fire!”
Cisco Olympians Cody Bell, Alexandre Faroni, Kate Baldwin and Srikanth Narasimhan will participate in the Paralympic Torch Relay next month. Stay tuned to hear about their amazing experiences in Brazil!