I have been editing this text for a couple of years now, it's not my best writing, and it misses a lot of details, but it is a short account of my experiences as a Games Maker in London 2012.
My journey as a Games Maker began in October 2010, when I completed the application for volunteering at the Olympic games. A bit unsure about having all the skills necessary, but determined to apply, to give myself a chance of being part of this huge celebration of sport. 9 months later I was invited for an interview at the EXCEL Centre London, where I was asked to say why I wanted to be part of this, and what skills and experiences I could offer. Around Christmas 2011 I was informed that I was going to be a Sport Operations team member. I remember feeling proud and excited. I didn’t know what the Sports Operations team’s objectives were, and what I was going to be doing, but I was going to be part of the games and that’s what mattered to me!
My first shift at the Olympic Village was in July 2012. It was the most surreal experience ever! Walking in a village where flags from all over the world were hanging from the balconies, athletes were training; bands were playing the Olympic Anthem, and people like me, volunteers were taking pictures in front of the Olympic circles.
Starting at 7am we were programming all 40 DVD recorders to record the day’s schedule, inserting the correctly labelled DVD in each one. At 8am our reception was opening for people requesting or collecting DVDs. At the same time our duplicators were working in full speed copying the DVDs from the previous day.
I met some amazing people during my time as a Games Maker (Hello Sarah, Kayleigh, James, Sheri and the rest of the team). My fellow games makers were all exceptional and supportive. Our manager, Mark, and the two team-leaders (Holly and Ru) were incredible, providing support and guidance when needed, showing true team spirit, allowing us to work our own routine, and letting our personalities shine through. Even random people on the street/ tube were great to us. For the first time people in London would smile to me on public transport, and even chat to me! They would usually say ‘Goodmorning! Were are you off today?’, they would ask questions about the Games, and my role as a games maker. It was amazing what the Games did to Londoners!
Three weeks after my first shift was the closing ceremony of the games. I have to admit that tears were running down my face as Jacques Rogge was saying thank you to all the volunteers. It had been a tiring three weeks, but exciting non the less, and I was so proud I was a part of the games!
I still remember my last shift. It was the day after the closing ceremony, and as it was my last day I arrived early to have time to enjoy the Olympic park atmosphere once more, taking pictures and just walking amongst the Olympians. I reached the SVR offices at 6.30am, expecting to see Mark there as always. Mark was nowhere to be found, the offices were locked, and Sarah and I just sat on the steps wondering what was going on. Typical us, we started making up theories in our head, Mark had been really apprehensive in the beginning of the games, not showing a lot of trust to the rest of us, but he was becoming better lately. We thought that he is testing us, that he was giving us one last test before we all finished, making sure that we knew how to do our jobs properly. By 7.30 neither Mark, Ru or Holly had arrived, we knew they had tickets for the closing ceremony, but that didn’t finish very late, and they were always the first ones to arrive anyway!
The athletes/coaches/sport officials would be arriving soon, to request their DVDs but we hadn’t even started copying yet, if I remember correctly. Keyleigh and James were the ones who went to the security team downstairs and asked them to unlock our offices for us, as the leadership team wasn’t there with the keys. After some negotiation they let us in through the outside door, but they did not have keys for the inside door, where the archive and empty DVDs were kept. We had to make this as we went along, so we got the copied DVDs out, and decided to give them out until one of them showed up.
Holly and Mark arrived at 9 and 9.30 am respectively, both looking pretty hangover. Of course it wasn’t a plan to check whether we could do our jobs, they were both drunk, and both trusted each other to show up and decided to have a lie in for the last shift!
Mark was so lovely that day, he allowed us to have copies of the games we wanted, and gave us all a little gift to remember our time together. I remember the excitement when someone won a medal, the concern when some had an accident, the anxiousness during the final moments of a still undecided game, the gratefulness people showed to us, the pride we felt when we were able to help, the spring in my step every morning and evening, despite the tiredness and the standing up all day. It was all worth it, I will just never forget those three weeks.