London 2012 – Still Surreal

Wednesday 18th July, Madiba’s birthday and the day I was preparing for my first shift at the Olympic Games. I unpacked my purple and poppy uniform and laid it out on the bed. This seemed almost surreal. Would it actually happen?

Having barely slept a wink I was up at 4.45 to get the first train from Hersham and to the Olympic Park…whu hu!! Few people get to spend their birthday at the Olympic Games!

I am so proud of wearing my uniform. On the train, bus, Tube or just walking down the street in my uniform I have got a brief idea of what it must be like to be famous. I have had people nudge their partners and pointed at me, nod and smile, and this has made me feel so good about what I am doing. And  there were so many other Games Makers (volunteers) in every train carriage on my train – young and old. Wow! This was going to be fun!

There are few things that annoy Londoner more than people not standing on the right on an escalator and allowing people to pass on the left. Interesting times ahead with millions of people arriving in this remarkable city over the next couple of weeks. I see many annoyed commuters finding another reason to moan about the Games. Petty petty petty!! But then moaning about the moaners makes me one of them, so I will stop….

On arrival at Stratford Station I decided to follow other Games Makers in uniform. Not very bright, considering they were all going in different directions. After roaming around for just under an hour, I finally found where I needed to be. As an NOC (National Olympic Committee) assistant, we have our own area where we have an area to make coffee, get information and updates and where there is a help desk. My team were there and we made our way to the South African office to meet Team SA.

Day 1 was about preparing for the arrival of the first 50 athletes. Some of the cyclists are still at the Tour de France or other events, and of course the swimmers are with Princess Charlene of Monaco (having been an SA Olympic swimmer herself, she offered to host their training camp for the 3 months leading up to the Games). A lot of the other athletes were based in St Mary’s University in Twickenham. I was in the office when an SA team member came in and asked for his room key. He said he was a swimmer and one of the managers said, ‘I thought all the swimmers were in Monaco” He replied, “I have a real job and had to work”. We forget so many of our athletes don’t make their living from sport. Of course the Olympics was originally for amateurs, but with the introduction of professional athletes a lot of the amateurs now have to compete with and against people who have sponsors, money for kit, coaches, facilities and funding for tournaments. These amateurs truly embody the Olympic values and the Olympic spirit and I admire them immensely.

We spent the day doing inventory checks, moving furniture around, chasing housekeeping and UPS, and generally getting Team SA settled in.

What has made this experience so amazing so far has been the use of social media. I have met wonderful people on Twitter who are also Games Makers, and we have shared our excitement, passion, experiences and photos. People have also got accommodation for the Games while volunteering from contact made in social media.

Facebook has allowed me to share this with all my friends and family around the world too, which would not have been possible PF (pre-Facebook).

I have also downloaded an app onto my Ipad which will give me up-to-date scores, events, and info about the athletes, their teams, histories etc. What a wonderful world! It must be so hard to plan an event this size in advance not knowing where technology will be at the time of the event. Such a challenge!

Remarkable to think that I am here, in the Olympic Village….I still can’t believe it!

Dawn Denton©

www.dawndenton.wordpress.com

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One Comment on “London 2012 – Still Surreal”

  1. I get so excited about your experiences, it feels as if I’m experiencing it with you!


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