Olympic Blog

olympic uniform

In the summer of 2012 I was lucky enough to be a Games Maker at Greenwich Park for the Equestrian and Modern Pentathlon events.  Here is a copy of my blog for that very exciting and memorable time!

Wednesday 25th July 2012

First Olympic blog entry - how exciting!!  Travelled to Greenwich today and thankfully a straightforward journey. Two firsts though... First time I have driven on the M25 by myself (and quite a long way too!) and first time in a travelling road block.  There was a car on fire on the A3 and traffic was slowed for quite a few miles.  I was close to the police cars at the front so at least knew what was happening!

After getting to the apartment where I am staying in Greenwich (big thank you to Tim!), I was quickly back out the door and on my way via the DLR to Stratford for the rehearsal of the opening ceremony at the Olympic Stadium!  Just outside the Olympic Park is Westfield Shopping Centre, which looks enormous!  I didn't have time to browse today, so I have decided to take a trip out there on Friday (a day off) to have a closer look around.

Security was efficient at the Park (mostly Army personnel), so plenty of time to walk down to the Stadium, past all the food stalls - rather pricey - and find my seat.  We have been asked to keep the details of the ceremony a secret so as not to spoil the surprise on Friday, but please watch it if you can - a fabulous, theatrical performance!  Fantastic atmosphere, lots of audience participation and some pretty stunning effects. 

The only downside was trying to get out of the park after the show.  Obviously, with that many people leaving at once (stadium was nearly full), it's always going to take time, but it was a bit disappointing just how long.  The show finished at 10.15pm as we were only there for the first part before the athletes parade, but I didn't get on a train until almost 11.40pm!  Nothing to do with the amount of trains, just thousands of people coming from a very large area and funneling down to a small one!  I hope they have learnt from the rehearsals and will manage to clear the areas faster for the real thing, or indeed any time a session at the stadium finishes!  Time will tell.  Any of you who are lucky enough to have tickets for a popular event there, you have my pity when it comes to leaving!

So - a very late night for me.  Eventually got to bed 12.45am, alarm set for 4.45am!

 

Thursday 26th July 2012

My first official day as a Games Maker!  Despite the late night I got up fine and walked to Greenwich Park in time for my 5.45am start.  Rehearsal for Cross Country day today, and my team are responsible for checking all the volunteers and paid staff in.  I am working in the Workforce Operations team and everyone has to come to us after passing through security to be officially checked in for their shift, given their meal voucher, collect a bottle of water and offered the chance to put on sunblock.  Very busy period between 8.30 - 9.30am which is when all the fence judges and stewards arrived for their run through, along with lots of other members of many other teams... Over 800 in total just in that period!

Working behind the scenes does make you appreciate just what goes into the planning and execution of such a large scale event, but even so we all needed the rehearsal as Cross Country day next Monday will be our busiest by far.  Luckily, no real issues for our team, but we were kept busy sorting out various things throughout the day.  A bit quieter in the afternoon so we have extra duties relating to workforce morale - can't go into many details here as not allowed to give the game away!

During my break I was able to see a bit more of the Cross Country course and one of my team took a photo of me with fence no 1 in the background.  Saw a few horses about, but not lucky enough to spot anyone I knew.  Another team member was very lucky - when she was on her break she spotted two horses and riders on exercise.  They were very friendly and stopped to pose for a photo or two.  She was excited as she had seen the Union Jack on their saddle cloths, but didn't know who they were.  She asked me if I knew when she showed me the photo and I replied "Yes - they're Zara Phillips and Nicola Wilson!"  Lucky thing!  Someone else returning from their break saw the whole British Eventing team on their way out the gate - going to the pub maybe??!!  Hopefully I will get a chance encounter like this at some point!

I finished at 2pm today so plenty of time to relax now before an early night.  I have to plan my shopping trip for tomorrow!!

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Friday 27th July 2012

Pretty good nights sleep last night so I headed off to the Westfield Shopping Centre outside the Olympic Park.  Glad I went early as it closed at 3pm today to allow lots of time for security checks and to get people to the stadium.  Such a fantastic atmosphere everywhere I've been in London - normally people don't even look at each other on the tube or DLR, but with every second person wearing Games Accreditation of some sort, there's lots of chatting going on as we all enquire about teams, job roles etc, or try to explain to a foreign visitor what our role entails or what venue we are helping at.

The atmosphere inside the shopping centre was even better as lots of athletes, coaches and other officials walking around, doing their own sightseeing or shopping in addition to London 2012 volunteers and workers.  In an absolutely huge retail area, I saw athletes from Australia, Croatia and India.  Although I wouldn't know them from Adam, they're easy to spot due to the fact they walk around in their team colours, with the name of their country on the back or front and their accreditation says 'Athlete' on it! Lol!  In addition to spotting the sporting stars, I got chatted up by a Spanish smoothie as he tried to sell me some skincare luxury brand - he did make me laugh!  I took all the freebies, said thank you very much and walked away - I am quite good at not falling for a sales patter, helped enormously this time by the fact that the products he was trying to sell me cost £95!  I told him I could afford £9.95 so I'd buy them for that - he took it all in good grace, said what a pity I am married and kissed my hand! 

I did plenty of window shopping in the posh and exclusive shops but what shop did I actually buy something in?  Primark!  Ha ha!

After a pitstop for coffee and cake in the foodhall (good grief - what a foodhall!  Remind me to never visit with Paul as he would take at least a month to decide what to eat!!!), I left Stratford and took the tube to Knightsbridge.  Wandered around Harrods then remembered I was carrying a Primark bag, so stuffed it in my rucksack while I looked at the Jimmy Choos, pretending I was seriously thinking of buying some! I can't actually imagine paying £695 for a pair of shoes, no matter how beautiful they are.  I would definitely need to have more money than sense!

I then spent an hour with my book in Hyde Park, watching the world go by and the dogs taking a dip in the water - really very relaxing.  The journey home was hot and packed and now I'm chilling out waiting for the Opening Ceremony to begin.  

The real work starts tomorrow.  Four days at Greenwich in a row now for the Eventing starting at 5.30 every morning... Watch this space...!

 

Saturday 28th July 2012

Different feeling in the air today - it was all real, rehearsal over.  Security was hightened, people more concentrated and lots of workers to check in early!  A lot of the managers were very emotional as all their work for so many months was finally coming to fruition.  The Workforce Operations Manager actually cried to see people in the stands as she has worked at the site for so long with them empty!  Yes, I know there were lots of empty seats, in common with several other venues and this was as frustrating for those behind the scenes as I'm sure it was to everyone who would have loved to have been there.

We are lucky enough to have a TV in our working area so were able to have the Eventing dressage on all day.  There are several TV's around for workers to watch when on their break, but this one, we control!!!  A lot of the others end up with football on as most of the people watching are security guards or the military!  One Army lady did come in to watch a bit of the dressage with us.  She so wanted to see at least one GB rider, and managed to watch Nicola Wilson's test.  Nothing was louder all day than the cheer that went up after Mary King's test!  Wow!  I hope that any of you who were in the crowd will remember that for a long time to come.

During my break today i went down to the arena with a couple of team mates.  It was good to soak up the atmosphere and with our accreditation we are able to go round some areas not open to the public.  We hovered around the collecting ring for a while and watched the officials at work when the horses and riders had completed their tests.  Saw Mike Tindall outside the collecting ring - I expect he will be around tomorrow as well to watch Zara.  Not too much time, so had to head back to work, but while walking back we came face to face with Tina Cook who was more than happy to pose for a photo and have a quick chat!  We have been warned not to distract the competitors when they are preparing, but outside of those times can approach them if they're in a suitable place.  Tina is doing her dressage tomorrow and was walking towards the arena in casual clothes, so I wasn't worried I would distract her too much!

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Busy couple of hours after lunch, then I finished my shift at 3pm.  I decided to walk the cross-country course, so headed off again towards the arena.  I've taken lots of photos which are now on my Facebook page - the jumps are so well built and attractive.  But it's the views from the top of the park, by the Observatory, which will make this venue such a big hit with the TV audience.  Incredible looking down the hill towards the arena with the old Greenwich buildings behind that, then the London skyline in the background.  Stunning.

The course is roughly three and a half miles, so walking that after a nine hour shift, and walking to and from the venue, my little legs are very tired!  I'm chilling out now, catching up on the other olympic news and looking forward to an early night!

 

Sunday 29th July 2012

Another eventing dressage day and lessons were learned from yesterday and today seemed to go very smoothly from the behind the scenes perspective.  Shame about the heavy showers and thunderstorms though!  I was lucky enough to be in the arena when Tina Cook rode her fabulous test on Miners Frolic and felt gutted for her that the rain was so heavy.  The wind affected some of the roofing on one of the judges boxes and as she rode past in the extended trot I could see she was having to hold back a bit from what she would normally expect from the horse so as to stop him over-reacting.  If the weather had been better I think she would have got a score below 40 pens, but in the circumstances it was a lovely test.

On the plus side, we managed to give out an awful lot of rain ponchos to the workers!  Thousands had been ordered due to the horrendous weather of a few weeks ago and management were beginning to worry they would be left with them all.  Not to worry - the Great British summer didn't let us down!

One of the jobs my team have to do each day is to produce a newsletter that goes out to the Games Makers the following day.  I had the task this morning to take todays newsletter to the workforce break area at the other end of the park, along with another member of the team, and then we had to find a Games Maker to interview on the way back down.  This is a very pleasant duty to do, as it involves walking past the warm up arenas, the stables and the all weather gallops that have been put in, running up the hill.  If you're lucky, it's possible to see a number of horses and riders working in, or having a canter up the hill.  Today we saw Tina (again - is she following me?!), Lucinda and Clayton Fredericks (Australia) and Mark Kyle (Ireland).  We found a lovely volunteer from the Event Services team to interview - a young lady who was helping to marshall the cross country course.

Lots of preparation going on today for tomorrows cross country day - lots of very nervous team leaders about who will have a sleepless night as they all hope all the prep works and tomorrow runs smoothly.  Let's all hope for dry, warm (but not too warm) weather.  We will all be working flat out tomorrow as there are so many spectators and literally thousands of workers on the site who we have to check in and look after.  Hopefully I will get a chance to watch some of the action - I can't wait to see how these wonderful jumps ride.  The word from the stable staff is that all the riders are thrilled with the venue and that everything from their perspective is absolutely fantastic.  Let's hope they all thoroughly enjoy their ride tomorrow, come home safely, and team GB knock the socks off everyone else!!

 

Monday 30th July 2012

Oh wow! What a day!  I hope most of you managed to watch the cross country on TV - it was amazing.  Lots of drama spread about the course and some fantastic rides.

It was an extremely busy start for the whole venue and by the time it had got to 10.30am we all felt as if we had been going for 12 hours or so!  I'm not allowed to give details, but sometimes things got a bit fraught and not everything went to plan.  Nothing affected the competition, or the spectators coming into the park, but things could have run smoother!  However, by the time the first rider was on the course everything was back to normal and sorted out.

I was lucky enough to spend quite a lot of time around the course today.  Before competition time, about 11am, two of us from our team went round the park to interview some Games Makers doing a variety of jobs for our workforce newsletter.  We spent quite a while out in the crowd soaking up the exciting atmosphere - everyone was very jolly and we saw the Union Jack in many guises, as well as lots of different flags from participating countries.  My teammate is Brazilian and he spotted Rodigo Pessoa exercising his horse - obviously some of the show jumpers have arrived - and as he was in charge of the camera, we got lots of photos of him!  We were impressed by how well managed the crowd was and of the good nature shown by public and Games Makers alike.  Of course, the largest crowds were finding their prime positions around the water jumps!

We had our work area TV tuned to the cross country (of course), so managed to keep up with how everyone did.  As well as us Brits on the team we have one Irish, one Brazilian and one Canadian, so we have adopted those teams as well so were cheering all of them on (mixed fortunes there!).  I finished my shift at 2.45pm, so was then able to go back out onto the course.  After walking to a good selection of the jumps, I watched Zara and Tina's rounds from the arena where a big screen and a scoreboard show all the action.  Lots of Royals in today supporting GB and Zara.  I decided to leave before the end rather than fight my way through 55,000 people (and I was dying to put my feet up with a nice cup of tea!) and arrived back at the flat just as William was starting his round.  Maybe I should have stayed for luck!  Good that he jumped clear, but I hope Lionheart can live up to his name and is fully fit tomorrow.  I haven't heard of any serious injuries to horses or riders, despite all the falls, so hopefully the news will stay good there also.

I feel so incredibly lucky to have this opportunity.  I had to pinch myself while watching the action this afternoon - I was actually at the Olympic cross country!  Definitely one to cross off my bucket list.  When I decided to volunteer, I didn't really think I'd get much opportunity to watch much, but I've seen so much already as well as had a look behind the scenes and watch the riders work in.  I'm very tired, but very happy!!!

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Tuesday 31st July

Well - such an exciting day!  The show jumping seemed to whizz through so fast - every time I turned round there seemed to be a new development and the lead kept changing hands.  Obviously, where the three best scores count, it is never possible to know the outcome until at least four of the five riders have been, but early in the day it still looked possible for GB gold.  Such an air of excitement around the whole park and even the non-British members of my team were cheering on the Brits.  We got even more excited when we started to check in the staff for the victory ceremony!  It's the first time we've seen them and bought it home that medals were going to be awarded today.

I was manning the workforce helpdesk in the break area when the final rounds of the show jumping were taking place.  Luckily there are two TV's in there so I didn't miss any of the action.  The break area was full, so we had our own spectator experience going on in there.  Lots of cheers and groans accordingly!  After the gold medal result was a certainty, it was very tense watching Tina keep her nerve for us to get silver.  The TV's are on a slight delay (about 3 seconds), but we knew when she had finished her round as the most enormous roar went up from the arena - she hadn't even jumped the final fence on the screen yet, but we knew she had done it!  I know it was a shame we didn't get the gold, but the German team was just too strong - and they're all really nice too (dammit!).

We see a lot of the eventers both in and out of the Park.  There is a small cafe down a side street leading away from the workforce entry to the venue and a lot of the eventers went there for bacon rolls and the like.  I was sent out to the post office this morning to get some more photo paper and I passed several of the Australian team, including Lucinda and Clayton Fredericks.  I hope the dressage riders and the show jumpers are just as relaxed and friendly... We'll find out this week!

My shift today ended at 2.30pm, but I stayed at the park to watch the individual jumping rounds and the medal ceremony. The arena stands were full, so I watched the jumping on the big screen by the entrance.  When the last round was over, people started to leave the venue - trying to avoid the rush I guess.  I was just starting to move along to the collecting ring area to take some photos, when I was aware of a group of people walking from the prestige pavillion towards the arena.  I looked up and who should be walking past but William, Kate and Harry!  I didn't have my camera in my hand and by the time I got it ready they were already out of sight.  Lots of HRH's about today.  Princess Anne, Beatrice and Eugenie, Duchess of Cornwall - the prestige team were certainly kept busy today!

The stands were still packed for the medal ceremony, but there was room now for myself (and a few more Games Makers) to go into the arena to watch.  What a fabulous feeling - I can't imagine how the teams receiving the medals felt.  Especially our team with such amazing home support.  I'm sure it will live with them forever.

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So, the eventers left Greenwich on Tuesday evening.  Onwards now with the Dressage and Showjumping.  Bring. It. On...!

 

Thursday 2nd August

A different sort of day for me today.  I was on a later shift - from 12 - 7.30pm, but still had an early start as I was at home last night.  Kim and Lauren had dressage tickets so my shift times worked out very well.  It meant we could all go together to Greenwich Park, and return home in the evening as I have another day off on Friday.  It's been really good to sleep in my own bed for a few nights!

We set off early in the morning and arrived at Greenwich before 11am, when the dressage was due to start.  As my shift wasn't due to start for another hour, I had plenty of time to go and get a coffee.  Disappointingly, the TV's in the break area were not showing the dressage (not that many equestrian types helping out here - and I suppose dressage isn't a good spectator sport unless you know what you're looking at!), so I took my coffee and went to the warming up arenas to watch the competitors working in.

There were a couple of showjumpers out in the warm up areas as well as dressage riders preparing for their tests.  We have heard from the stable staff that all the riders are overjoyed with the quality of the facilities here and it's general consensus that Greenwich Park is the best equestrian venue EVER!  That has been agreed by one of the Australian eventers (Andrew Hoy), who competed at his home Games at Sydney 2000.  He wouldn't say that London 2012 is the best Olympics ever, but did admit that the equestrians had never had better.  I think that's a real feather in our cap!

It's always interesting watching different riders and how they work in their horses.  You can learn an awful lot watching these hugely successful partnerships and I had to tear myself away in order to go back to work - especially when Carl Hester bought Utopia out to prepare for his test.  We had our TV tuned to the dressage (of course!) so I didn't miss anything while at work.  Lovely tests from Carl and Laura to give us an overnight dressage lead.  I know Laura was disappointed with her test, but it was a really good start from GB.

Today was the first late shift I have done and it was really quiet.  We are mega busy first thing in the morning and generally right up to lunchtime as even if no-one is waiting to check in we have the newsletter and competitions to organise.  Really, by the time I started today everything was nearly done.  This did give me the opportunity though to go back out around the arena and observe what was going on.  I managed to spot Nick Skelton and Ben Maher (GB Showjumpers) on their way into the stands to watch the dressage for a bit.  They were followed by Rob Hoekstra, the team manager.

The dressage finished for the day at 3.30pm and Kim and Lauren headed off to the DLR to go shopping at Westfield Shopping Centre.  I ended up finishing at 5pm instead of 7.30 as there was nothing left to do for the day so I joined them there.  Another tiring but fun time looking round the shops and we stopped there for something to eat.  A session in the Olympic Park had obviously finished while we were there as all of a sudden there was a sea of people walking down from the Park.  Luckily, the transport system seems to be coping well and although it was busy everywhere, it wasn't difficult to get around.  We didn't have to queue long for food.  

Back home after this - another long and tiring day.  I have tomorrow at home.  I daresay I will be watching the dressage on TV!  I will be leaving home to travel back to London on Friday evening, as I have an early start on Saturday for the first of the Showjumping days.

 

Saturday 4th August

Very exciting watching the second dressage day from home yesterday - wasn't Charlotte marvellous?  Can't wait for Tuesday now and I'm so happy to be at Greenwich for the team final.  Today was the first of the show jumping sessions, though, and two more jumping days and a medal ceremony to go through before the dressage diva's have the arena back.

Slightly stressful first thing this morning.  I was first into our work area to find that my manager hadn't arrived yet, so everything was still locked away.  I had to check people in and ask them to come back for their meal vouchers (not popular!), but nothing else I could do.  My manager had had a nightmare morning and was held up but half hour later normal service was resumed!  Very busy between 6am - 9am so that time really went fast.

I was very lucky today as myself and a few others from the team were selected to go and watch the show jumping from the VIP area.  Nick Skelton had already jumped, but Ben Maher did his round while we were watching.  Saw some lovely rounds and some not so lovely rounds!  One horse in particular took a dislike to the lion decoration on the Nelsons Column fence on the way into the arena - it obviously looked far too real - but never got that far in the actual round as a misjudgement at the first double saw the horse and rider fall. Anyone watching on TV would probably remember that!  Lots of super horses and tactful riding overall, it was a real treat.

I also went into the vet clinic today to interview one of the vet nurses for the newsletter.  Pleased to report that they have had a very quiet time, even after the cross country, and they will be perfectly happy to go home after the Olympics and say how bored they were!  The whole vet team here, and the facilities, are second to none and they are ready to go at a moments notice.

Funniest sight of the day?  Definitely the strange guy dressed (kind of!) as a rider in off-white old breeches, a red hunting coat that had clearly seen better days, and an old style riding hat who was trying to convince passer's by that he was one of the competitors!  He was walking about outside the venue, along by Greenwich train station and was attracting a lot of attention.  I wonder if anyone fell for it...

My Games Maker umbrella got plenty of use today.  Walked both to and from Greenwich Park in the rain... good old British summertime!

 

Monday 6th August

Olympic show jumping champions! Wooooo Hooooo!  What a feeling - and that's only a fraction of what those riders must feel!  Of course, for the horses it's just another day at the office, but hopefully they knew they had achieved something special.  I expect the grooms have cleared the local shops of polos and are taking extra special care of their equine athletes tonight!  The riders, however, have probably ended up down the pub...

I've had a fantastic couple of days and totally enjoying this experience.  The first round of the team jumping yesterday was exciting and I had the opportunity to sit in the stands again (in the pouring rain).  What a marvellous job the fence builders have done as all the jumps are a fabulous showcase for the rest of the world to see.  I left the venue on Sunday a bit before the end of competition as I had to go and collect my Paralympic uniform from the Accreditation Centre.  A bit of a nightmare trying to use public transport systems while many, many people are trying to get to various Olympic venues, but I made it!  Some of my team and a few others were going to the Greenwich Tavern (just opposite the workers & athletes entrance to Greenwich Park), so after getting changed I met them down there.

Now, it has to be said that the Irish led me astray!  Jill, who works in the same team as me, is from Belfast and her boyfriend, Steven, had joined her for a few days.  Steven is very fond of getting the drinks in and the alcohol was flowing fast.  Someone within the group had spotted John Whitaker and Geoff Billington somewhere in the pub, and soon after I spotted John.  I asked if he would mind coming up to our seats for a photo and he was happy to oblige.  He ended up staying with us for a drink and chatted away quite happily.  It was his 57th birthday and he had clearly been in the pub for some time already!  He was lovely though and told stories about Milton and previous Olympics.  Although he wished he was still taking part, he was enjoying a novel experience watching from the stands having purchased a ticket like everybody else.  He also said that all the riders were so happy with the facilities - nothing could be better and not one of them (from any country) had any complaints.

After a while,we were joined by John's wife, Clare, who had been looking for him.  Shortly after, Geoff Billington came over and the atmosphere became more like a party as Geoff is such a natural comedian and he and John wind each other up and tease each other all the time (they are great friends who have known each other for years).  Geoff had also had many drinks and although happy to pose for photos, rather misbehaved!  Cheeky!  If you've seen my Facebook photos, you will see I have hold of his hand in some - that's because it was 'straying'!  He did exactly the same with Vicky who was sitting on his other side and got a slap from us both!

I left the pub and went to meet my fab friend Jacquie who's husband Julian is also working at Greenwich Park, with the stables team (lucky so and so!).  We met down by the Cutty Sark where there was a big screen in the park area by the Naval College.  Lovely party atmosphere there with live music and it was a balmy evening - perfect!  After Julian had finished his late shift, we went back to the Greenwich Tavern where the party was still in full swing... and John and Geoff were STILL drinking.  They staggered out a short while later.  I watched the 100m final there, then headed off to get some much needed sleep.

Not quite such an early start this morning - 8.15am - so quite a relaxed day on the whole.  Seeing as we were in such a strong position in the jumping I decided to stay and watch and I'm so glad I did.  It was so tense and exciting and when it went to a jump off between GB and the Netherlands, we thought our nerves wouldn't cope with much more!  In fact, as the commentator said, it was worse than watching England take penalties in the world cup!  BUT, our fab team came through with Peter Charles pulling out a clear round when it really mattered and the crowd exploding with sheer joy.  Boy, do those dressage riders have a lot to live up to tomorrow!

As I left the Park and walked passed Greenwich Tavern, the Dutch team were already there, drowning their sorrows.  I dare say the GB team will be there as well at some point, but this afternoon I just needed to go home, have a shower and a lovely cup of tea!  I know how to celebrate, lol!  I can't keep up with this celebrity lifestyle.  Oh - one more thing, John and Clare Whitaker waved and said hello to me this afternoon as I left the arena.  It was nice to be remembered!

Tuesday 7th August 2012
This is just getting better and better!  A totally fabulous day which started in a very early and busy fashion and has ended with a Dressage Team Gold!  I am working a such a lovely group of people and I know there are lots of good teams doing all manner of jobs on the site here, but I really wouldn't wish to be working in any other team, doing any other job role.  I get to meet the vast majority of the people on site and have varied duties, going in most areas around the park - it is busy, yes, but also a lot of fun.  I also get such marvellous opportunities, such as watching all the Grand Prix Special tests this afternoon form the VIP area.  I was sitting six rows down from the Princess Royal today!  I wasn't shirking my duties - honest - I finished my shift at 2pm and the opportunity was there!

Once again a fantastic atmosphere in the arena for the medal ceremony.  The dressage horses found it hard to cope, as they often do, but I don't think anything could wipe the smiles off Carl, Laura and Charlotte's faces as they collected their medals and rode their lap of honour.  The roof was again figuratively blown off the arena.  Union Jacks galore!

Just a short blog today... I'm off to the pub with my team and hoping that the dressage medalists will be in for a celebratory drink and to show off their medals!

 

Wednesday 8th August 2012

Oh my goodness... what a night last night!  The pub was packed, as is normal after a competition day, and an air of total excitement!  Geoff Billington was there again (I don't think he ever leaves...!!!) and was joined for a while by Pippa Funnel.  The whole of the Dutch team were in there and a couple of the Germans, but they didn't stay too long.  Our British champions were whisked away by car for a press conference so we only saw them flash past.  It didn't stop our celebrating though...  I have got to do a bit more practicing if I'm to keep up with the drinking!  Probably would also help if I'd had something to eat first and not just a liquid dinner - lol!

I did make it home eventually and thankfully had a late shift today so plenty of time to recover.  I walked to Greenwich Park for 12.00 to start work and the show jumping individual finals had just started when I got there.  So much hope and expectation for Nick Skelton and when he jumped clear in the first session we all started to wonder if he could pull it out the bag again.  The second round, as most of you probably saw, was a very challenging course - a perfect championship track.  So with that in mind, anyone who managed a double clear was going to be a deserving champion.  What a shame for Nick that just that one fence down in the whole competition lost him a medal.  He was gutted.  At least this time he has the team medal to take away with him - not like with Arko when he was in prime position and the same thing happened.

Although we were all disappointed to have a medal ceremony without a Brit on the podium, it was good to see a rider from Switzerland get the gold.  I don't think Switzerland figure much in the medal table, so good for them! Steve Guerdat was soooo proud and pleased with his Gold - he was in the pub by 5.30 showing it off and allowing hundreds of Games Makers to touch his medal.

Tomorrow is the last day of equestrian competition, and what a day to look forward to.  Many of the volunteers finish tomorrow and yet more are just starting as the Modern Pentathlon team move into the venue on Friday.  The horses have been on site for the past couple of weeks, but in a separate yard from the equestrian teams, and have been ridden in the main arena to get used to their surroundings.  It will be interesting to watch a different sport, but I am a bit apprehensive about the quality of riding skills to come - I just hope it's not as bad as at the Beijing Games in 2008!

A thank you party was held for all the Games Makers tonight next to the cross country water jump.  Food and drink was provided by the venue team and certificates given out to volunteers who had gone above and beyond, or who were outstanding in their posts.  It was nice to be recognised and we have received a huge amount of positive feedback from the general public and the athletes about how hard everyone is working.  I left after only an hour of the party tonight as I have the next two days off and needed to travel home before I fell asleep at the wheel!  As Mattie is lame (again!) I was anxious to get home and see how he was, otherwise I would have maybe stayed in London and got in to see the dressage freestyle tomorrow.  I will enjoy watching on TV though, and will probably shed a tear at the marvellous patriotic test of Charlotte and Valegro's.

 

Saturday 11th August 2012

So after two days at home I'm back in London for the Modern Pentathlon events at Greenwich.  I was glued to the TV on Thursday for the dressage Freestyle and didn't they do us proud?  I'm sure I'm not alone with shedding a tear along with Laura when she finished her test, and during Charlotte's test which was so emotive and fabulous.  What a time for British dressage!  I have also had a lame horse to look after, although I'm inclined to think he was just faking for attention as he seems to be getting better by the day (fingers crossed)!

Not such an early start this morning (since when has getting up at 6.15am been a lie in?) and, as the Modern Pentathlon events at the Park didn't start until 3.30pm, not quite so busy first thing.  Most of our volunteers arrived between 10 -12 today so a very busy time then, but after the rush myself and two others in our team were asked to go and take part in the rehersal for the victory ceremony.  It's the first time I have been on the field of play itself and even in an empty arena we could imagine how the riders have felt over the past couple of weeks as they rode in to that wonderful atmosphere.  A very different set up in the arena as the shooting area was set up at one end and the jumping area fenced off.  We got to walk the course and took lots of photos of the jumps close up - another really cool experience.

My shift finished before the competition started (at Greenwich at least - the athletes had already completed fencing and swimming in the morning), so I found myself a position high up in the south stand to watch a few jumping rounds.  I wasn't expecting a terribly high standard of horsemanship as I have watched Mod Pen jumping rounds at previous Olympics, but it was still rather painful to watch.  I think the selectors did a good job of finding suitable horses and they all looked completely capable of jumping the course, but they were waiting to be ridden!  During the rounds I watched live, it looked as though the riders didn't have a clue about a stride, let alone a good one!  Hopefully anyone watching who doesn't understand about show jumping will realise that the jumps down are the fault of the rider, rather than the horse in most circumstances today and will also maybe realise that there is a lot of skill in riding a clear round!  I know these competitors only get 20 minutes and five practice jumps to get to know their horse, but in BHS exams you get no minutes or practice jumps, you just have to get on with it!!!

Despite the lack of equestrian skills, it was good to have a different set of athletes and helpers at Greenwich Park today.  I thought the venue lended itself well to the running and shooting and as I watched the final part of the competition from home, it looked fab on the telly!

As I came out of the gates today I noticed that the Greenwich Tavern, home of many a celebrating equestrian team (and Games Makers!) has renamed itself The Gold & Saddle!  I'm pretty sure it will be reverting back to normal after the Games is over but it's a nice touch!

So, one more day to go.  I'm hoping the ladies will show better riding skills tomorrow and GB have a good shot at a medal, so here we go again!

 

Sunday 12th August 2012

Last day... A very busy one with lots of volunteers checking in for the final competition day.  In Workforce Operations, one of our tasks is to give out reward and recognition items and because this was the last day we had to make sure everyone had received all their thank you gifts.  The check-in area was pretty packed at times with a queue out the door while we sorted everyone out!  Giving out gifts is one of our nicer jobs, but the reactions from the Games Makers were widely varied.  Some people were hugely pleased and appreciative, but we did get the odd strange reaction - "What am I supposed to do with that?" ( I could think of a few suggestions, but refrained form saying!!).  We received the gifts as well, of course, and I'm rather pleased with them.  Certainly better than nothing!  Over the course of the Olympics, all Games Makers will have received a journal, five pin badges, a certificate and a replica relay baton.  I'm not parting with any of mine, but I have seen that all of these are currently for sale on eBay!  

It was the turn of the Ladies Modern Pentathlon today.  Overall a slightly better standard of riding, but there were still some hideous sights.  It seems as if a lot of the athletes just do not put the work into this phase - I don't get that.  At least we had a Brit on the podium today, and a silver medal to add to our tally.

After work - party time!  Although everyone was sad it was over, there was a real party spirit everywhere.  I went to Noodle Time in Greenwich for a meal with four of my team (lovely chinese food with lots of noodles and generous portions - pretty cheap too!) and we went back to The Gold & Saddle afterwards to watch the closing ceremony.  Lots of venue staff, MOD and Games Makers in there, the drink was flowing very well and lots of time to talk about our experience and have a laugh.  Flags were flying in there as well and most joined in with the songs in the ceremony as they came along.  I eventually escaped about 12.30 and walked back to the flat to get some much needed sleep!  Leaving for home in the morning... Only two weeks until the Para's.

A huge thank you to the fab Workforce Operations team who helped to make my Games experience the best ever.  I have made some life long friends.  Thank you to Kate, Tara, Jill, Vicky, Julie, Gui, Sarah, Anne and Celia.  I will see some of you in a couple of weeks and Jill - we will definitely see you in Belfast sometime soon. xxx