London, Rio and now Tokyo - no stopping Olympic-mad volunteer

PUBLISHED: 12:30 19 September 2016

Phill on the bus with team GB's rugby squad.

Phill on the bus with team GB's rugby squad.

Archant

A former European Veterans Championship athlete from Exmouth, who spent over £3,000 to volunteer at the Rio Olympic Games, has now set his sights on Tokyo.

Phill Vaughan, 74, of Cyprus Road, is targeting a hat-trick of Olympics after aiming for a volunteer post at the 2020 Japan games.

The retired forensic psychiatrist enjoyed his time so much working at the London and Rio games that it has inspired him to commit himself to the next competition.

He said: “All being well, I would like to give it a try and go to Tokyo in four years.

“Rio was not a cheap option, but it was certainly worth the money. I had a great time. It was fantastic. The Brazilian fans were very noisy and very exuberant. There was a lot of cheering and booing, but in a nice way.

“I decided to volunteer the first time as it was going to be a local event in London and I thought I could get involved. It was such a fantastic experience I was encouraged to do it again in Brazil.”

The keen athlete, who has first-hand experience of competing in tournaments, having run the 800 and 1,500 metres in the 1981 European Veterans Championship, was given the job of greeting rugby, hockey and synchronised diving teams as they arrived at their training base in Rio.

Phill lived with a Brazlian family in Ilha do Govendor, situated next to a favela, and travelled four hours a day by bus to get to and from the games.

He was not deterred from attending Rio, despite the risks and negativity surrounding the games.

He said: “I was a bit naive and didn’t anticipate any problems. There were quite a lot of worries all over the place. The people that I was staying with were very concerned for my safety.

“With Rio’s reputation for violence, they were very concerned about me as a non-Portuguese speaker. In particular, for my own safety, I was advised not to speak English on the buses.”

Despite enjoying himself, Phill was happy to return to Exmouth.

He said: “After five weeks, I was ready to come home and it was really nice to speak to people in English.”

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