Catherine Diuco isn’t always competitive. Sure, the senior business insights and planning analyst at Coca-Cola South Pacific does Sydney’s 14 kilometre City2Surf fun run every year – it’s a tradition she shares with her father – but she takes it pretty easy. “We’re not professional runners or anything, so we kind of walk-jog-run,” Catherine says. 

But when the company announced its global staff competition, the Coca-Cola Global Wellbeing Challenge, with a trip to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games as its grand prize, Catherine was adamant she would win. 

She logged her daily step count on a fitness tracker, submitted a story about her shared annual fun run experiences, and made a charming music video. Amazingly, a couple of months later, Catherine and her dad were headed to Rio de Janeiro for the XXXI Olympiad.

Rio 2016

“It was funny, when you’re in the stadium, whether your country is playing in that game or not, it didn’t actually matter,” Catherine said. “People had their flags, and I had my Aussie flag – even if it was France vs. Denmark.”

With fans from around the world descending on Brazil, the atmosphere in Rio was frenetic. “You’re surrounded by people who were just there for the Olympics, so it was a great vibe,” she recalled. 

“It was funny, when you’re in the stadium, whether your country is playing in the game or not, it didn’t actually matter. People had their flags, and I had my Aussie flag; even if it was France vs. Denmark.”

Catherine was also joined by competition winners from around the world. “That was one of the really special things about this competition, and the whole trip. We even created a social media group for the winners all over the world so by the time we got to Rio it was like meeting up with friends,” Catherine said. 

Rio 2016 Olympic Games

Catherine and her newfound crew were treated to a series of events, including artistic gymnastics. 

At the Olympic events a party vibe was pervasive. “It was the first time I’d seen Olympic beach volleyball. The commentators, they really got into it. You had music playing between points and they had a little band in the corner so in between games there’d be live music,” Catherine said. 

“The group I was with managed to get onto the big screen at each of the events that we went to, thanks to our enthusiastic flag waving and some dancing, by one group member in particular,” Catherine laughed.  

Catherine and her newfound crew were treated to a series of events, including artistic gymnastics, beach volleyball, handball and the memorable men’s rugby sevens final in which Fiji won its first-ever Olympic gold medal. 

Rio 2016

The competition winners enjoyed VIP treatment during their time in Rio. 

She even got to go behind-the-scenes before the match. “We went through the tunnel and actually onto the sidelines and into the coaches’ box,” recalled Catherine. “Dad and I love rugby. His face was beaming when we walked into the tunnel” she said. 

The competition winners enjoyed VIP treatment during their time in Rio. “We had private transport arranged for every event, and we even went through the preferential queues so it was a speedy entry into all of the events,” Catherine said. 

When asked to sum up her Rio 2016 Olympic Games experience in one word, Catherine paused for a moment. “I was going to go with ‘gold’, but thinking about it, it was better than gold. I think I’d have to say it was simply priceless” she said.