26 Sep 2012

Olympic volunteer

2012 news Comments Off on Olympic volunteer

By Peter Harding

“I discovered that I was, after all, to become a Games Maker, working in the Aquatic Centre, within the Press Operations team!”


When I discovered that there had been 240,000 applicants for the 70,000 volunteer positions at the London 2012 Olympics, my hopes of selection took a nose-dive! Luck, however, was with me, and I discovered that I was after all to become a Games Maker, working in the Aquatic Centre, within the Press Operations team!

This meant assisting the world’s journalists to find their seats, and keeping them supplied with start lists, results sheets and anything else they needed. It also meant having a superb view of all the swimming and diving events! Synchro too, of course.

In short, a wonderful, unforgettable experience. I shall treasure the memories for ever of a London Games which produced all the facilities on time, on budget, with no security problems and no transport chaos – all of which had been forecast by the doom merchants. I was immensely proud to be British and to have played a very small part in the event.

Highlights?  There were many. To pick just a few: Watching the special award presented to Michael Phelps (a swimmer whose career I have followed since he was 11 years old), as the greatest Olympian gold-medal winner of all time; The Industrial Revolution climax at the opening ceremony, which had many people in tears; Seeing Tom Daley’s bronze – the first individual diving medal by a Brit since 1960; The great friendliness of the policeman, who posed for countless photos and gave “high fives” to anyone within reach; The smooth, fast daily Underground travel to Stratford: And finally the Boris Johnson speech at the Parade through London’s streets which followed the Paralympics.   Oh, and the “Thank You” letter, of course, from Prime Minister David Cameron.

Regrets? Only a small number. There was no opportunity for the Games Makers to swim in the Olympic pool.  It would have been great, even if we’d been asked to show up at 3 a.m. but the chance never arose! Second was my personal disappointment that the BBC did not cover the Paralympics as well. Too many advert breaks on Channel 4, too much studio nattering, and far, far too much of David Beckham’s voice telling us about Sainsbury’s sponsorship!

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