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From veterans to rookies, these local athletes are in Rio

Helena Scutt

SEATTLE -- It’s flame-on in Rio de Janeiro as the Olympic Games begin.

Brazil will welcome the world and the world’s athletes with a massive a dance party in the main stadium as opening ceremonies unfold against a backdrop of security worries, logistical challenges, political disarray and polluted venues.

Athletes will put all that behind them on this Friday night. They’re here to compete and they’re here for the Olympic experience and opening night is always a big part of that.

We talked to local athletes who will be part of the spectacle, some who are in Rio but can’t join in, first-timers and veterans and at least one who’s been there before but didn’t make it this time and looks back on one of the great nights of her life.

What's it like to march with your fellow countrymen on that opening night. Let Sue Bird tell you about her first opening night in Athens in 2004.

"So the minute that USA got announced and the second we got into that arena, we heard the crowd erupt, and I can’t really explain what that sounds like, what that feels like. It was pretty incredible; you then do your lap, which is fun and you are waving and everybody going crazy and cheering. I don't know it’s the one time probably in this world where everybody is just kind of happy for everybody else. And nothing really matters, we are just some athlete’s gathering here and we are about to start something that we have been training for four year,s but in that moment you are just happy and waving and everybody is cheering for you. It’s pretty cool"

Meet some of our Olympians:

Sue Bird is a longtime point-guard for the Seattle Storm. She’s in her fourth Olympics and has already tucked away three gold medals. Bird says the chance to play in the Olympics never gets old.

Breanna Stewart, Bird's Storm and USA teammate, is a rookie, going into her first Olympics.

Jeremy Taiwo of Renton is the No. 2 decathlete in the U.S. This is his first Olympics. He went to Newport High and the University of Washington.

Jordin Andrade is from Maple Valley, ran hurdles collegiately at Boise State and is running the 400 meter hurdles for Cape Verde, an island grouping off the West Coast of Africa where his father was born. It’s his first Olympics.

Helena Scutt was born in Britain but raised in Kirkland. She sails in a new class for women, the 49er FX dinghy, which can hit 30 mph in a good wind.

Editor's note: Allen Schauffler has covered seven Olympic Games, Summer and Winter, reporting from Sydney, Salt Lake City, Athens, Torino, Beijing, Vancouver and London. During the Rio Games he’ll report from Seattle, offering a variety of stories featuring local Olympic athletes and families. They will run on KOMO News at 6 every weeknight.

For more news on the Rio Games, go here.

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