Sunday, 12 August 2012

My Games Maker experience

For the past few weeks, the jourknow has been contributing to what can only be described as the greatest Sporting event in the world. The Olympic Games in London have thrilled the nation since they began, with Team GB arguably putting in the best performance we’re unlikely to see at an Olympic Games again. We’ve embraced the drama, the excitement and at times, the frustration of all the Olympics brings to the host nation, and what a ride it has been since the Opening Ceremony marked the beginning of the sporting action.

But for all the fans and spectators playing their part in the Olympics, there was one group of people who went the extra mile to ensuring the Games ran smoothly, efficiently and more importantly, memorably. The thousands of Games Makers, made up of volunteers of all ages, have in some cases been more talked about then the athletes themselves. Their determination, skill and smiley faces have welcomed millions of spectators into all the sporting venues, and have been the foundations for the success of London 2012.

I was one of the many Games Makers who helped shape these Games, and what a memorable experience it was. Up at the crack of dawn for eight shifts in total, I hopped on the train to Earls Court to assist the security team at the venue, which was home to the Volleyball. My role was simple but important; ensure spectators are ready for security by following strict security controls put in place by LOCOG, thus enabling the security procedures to run coherently.

It might sound simple, but it’s a daunting task when you’re serving 300 spectators per security lane per hour. With spectators arriving from all four corners of the globe, the language barrier was often a problem, but despite a few grumpy spectators, (the American’s and Korean’s were the grumpiest), it went off without a hitch. I was delighted at how fantastic the atmosphere was. The crowds were really cheerful, despite the odd shower or queue. I was overcome with emotion when thanked by many of the home crowd, and it was certainly refreshing to see so many people come together and get on. In fact, you could have almost forgotten about the animosity between countries, because here, everyone was happy.

And it wasn’t just the crowd that I enjoyed working with, the security team were great too. The other volunteers I worked with were fantastic, all really friendly and kind. I made so many friends from my time at Earls Court and felt sad to be leaving my team after my last shift. It was great to work with people that shared the same passion as you - to make the Games memorable for everyone - but who had all come from different paths of life.

The army were fantastic to work with too. Saving the day at the last minute from the dreadful G4S drama, the army ensured that security was tight from start to finish. I respect these guys so much, living in squalid conditions, waking up at the crack of dawn with many working through what was their holiday time, yet still managing to smile and guard the venues. They were funny, and the laughs kept on coming. The nicest guys I’ve ever worked with and I really hope the reputation of the Armed Forces in this country improves because of their role in the Olympics.

My Games Maker experience ended before it had barely begun. Every session I worked at was special. The smiley spectators, the friendly staff, the warm (but generally bland) meals, the volleyball games we managed to sneak in to, the great gifts we were given as a token of thanks; all of it contributed to a fantastic few weeks of magic and excitement. For me, it’s an experience I won’t forget, and I can’t wait to relive it with my grandchildren some day.

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