Making the Games happen

aat comment

The flame will finally go out on a glorious sporting Summer this weekend when the Paralympic Games come to a close.  We meet AAT members and staff who have played their part in making it all happen.

Games Maker: Ian Smiler FMAAT

Games Maker: Ian Smiler FMAAT

The media mover – Ian Smiler FMAAT, Chair of AAT’s East Kent Branch

My role was working at the Bloomsbury Media Hub, in Russell Square. The world’s media were housed in hotels and university student accommodation (vacant in the summer holidays) found in this part of London, and a temporary bus station was set up to transport them to Stratford or other Olympic venues.

My role was to man one of the bus stops ensuring the media caught the correct bus to their chosen destination, or to assist with return back to their accommodation via the shuttle services if required.

As a volunteer I was invited to attend a rehearsal of the opening ceremony. There was such elaborate detail to the presentation and the acoustics in the stadium were fantastic; everyone was jumping with joy by the end.

On the day of the opening ceremony I was sent to a hotel in Greenwich, to ensure the press staying there got to Stratford in time. After my shift I went to Stratford myself and watched the opening ceremony on a big screen and marvelled at the fireworks at the end of the evening.

Another surprise was the opportunity to visit the Olympic Park. I was able to see all the sporting venues (from the outside) and the rest of the park. It was packed – I’ve never seen so many people enjoying themselves so much.

I am very pleased to have volunteered to part of London 2012. I met many interesting people and there was a great camaraderie amongst the volunteers. It was a once in a lifetime experience and well worth the effort.

Games Maker: Steven Perryman

Games Maker: Steven Perryman

The athlete interviewer – Steven Perryman, AAT’s Editorial Manager

My role was a Flash Quote Reporter in the velodrome. There is an area of the venue called the Mixed Zone where athletes ‘mix’ with reporters straight after competing.  In the velodrome it is track centre, right in the thick of the action.

My role was to interview athletes in this area and upload my quotes to a central system which was accessed by the world’s media.  It was quite stressful – we had just 15 minutes to file quotes, so they were on the system as soon as possible. It is amazing then seeing your quotes popping up in newspapers and websites across the globe almost straight away.

Each day we would be assigned a medallist to interview at our team briefing. Of course, we would not know who that person was until the race was run. Some days I was interviewing riders who had come fourth (not an easy interview) and on others I was interviewing the Great Britain gold medal winning riders. No day was ever the same.

I was fortunate enough to be assigned the gold medallists in both the keirin races, meaning I got to interview Victoria Pendleton and Sir Chris Hoy after their respective victories. It really is one of the best volunteer roles to have got – seeing the athletes up close straight after their moment of joy (or tragedy). I even set up my own blog to document my experience.

Probably my over-riding memory was of interviewing an American rider called Jimmy Watkins, who had come fifth in the Men’s Sprint. He is actually a full time fireman back home and trains in his spare time. He was over-joyed just to be there and fifth, he said, felt like winning. It was a sobering reminder that not all the athletes train and compete full time.

For me, being a Games Maker was an unforgettable experience. I even grew to like the uniform. I am already looking at volunteer opportunities at other sporting events. There can’t be a better endorsement of my experience than that.

Torch bearer: Jen Hall

Torch bearer: Jen Hall

The torch bearer – Jen Hall, AAT student

As an official sponsor of the 2012 London Olympic Games, Proctor & Gamble (P&G) gave its employees the opportunity to nominate to become a torch bearer.

Jen was nominated to take part for her outstanding commitment to the Manzini Youth Care, which fosters a close bond between her old school, St Anthony’s, and an orphanage in Swaziland. She carried the torch in Newcastle in June.

“I was thrilled to be given the chance to be involved in the Olympic Games, it really is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

“I have been able to obtain a good balance between my charity work and study. I have been fortunate enough to visit some of the orphanages in Africa and have taught English to orphaned children between the ages of 8-19.”

Steven Perryman is AAT Comment's former Content Editor.

Related articles