Olympic Volunteering – Part3

Now I have finished my volunteering experince, people ask – “Was it worth it?”

I’ll answer this question in this, the final part of my Olympic blog…

Personal Highlights

London 2012 has been universally lauded and declared a rousing success by many people. But for me, being involved in an Olympic Games in my home town was a unique privilege. Here are some of the memories that stand out:

1. Watching the Opening Ceremony rehearsal live and in the flesh before the world got to see it. Danny Boyle did Great Britain proud. That experience in itself was worth going through the protracted application process. Here are a  few snaps:

Stratford Station:

Heading to the Olympic Park (lots of mobile phones!):

Great seats, watching the country-side scene unfold:

Audience participation, holding up the sea:

Industrial Revolution:

NHS scene:

Music scene:

2. Testing commentator headsets during Tom Daley’s 10m synchro final – and being caught on the BBC coverage in the process.

Here’s me caught live on TV:

And here’s a photo I took from that very spot:

3. Being on the Olympic park on Super Saturday and listening to the crowd in the Olympic Stadium roaring Jess Ennis, Greg Rutherford and Mo Farah on to their Gold Medal wins (albeit from outside the stadium). That same evening I witnessed Michael Phelps win his 22nd and final Olympic medal in the 4*100m relay. He was also awarded The Greatest Olympian trophy.

Phelps’ Final Medal Ceremony:

Greatest Olympian:

4. The unconditional, deafening support for every single British swimmer and diver, whether they won or lost.

5. Watching the eventual Olympic Water Polo champions, Croatia, demolish their opposition, it was the first match I’d ever been to and it was a bit of master-class. The physicality of the sport certainly appealed to the rugby player in me.

6. Watching “Our Greatest Team” Parade come close by our Accenture office in London along with thousands of other city workers:

London lunchtime skivers:

Sir Chris Hoy and his medals:

Mobot:

Unexpected Recognition 

Quite a few people have come up to me in the office to ask me how it went. Even the Prime Minister sent me a personal thank-you letter!

In summary, I got so much more out of this experience than I was ever expected to put in. Not a bad return on a few days unpaid leave!  I wonder how I go about volunteering for the Rugby World Cup in 2015… it’s in my home town after all.

Olympic Volunteering – Part2

This is the second part of my Olympic volunteer blog,  it will cover the second most common question that I’ve been asked. That is – “what did you actually have to do as a volunteer in the technology team?”

I’ve included some of the pictures I took in the hope that this part is a more interesting read…

Logistics

First, I’ll cover off the logistics of the whole thing. As I was contacted so close to the start of the Games, I wasn’t expected to commit to a minimum of ten shifts like most other volunteers. My mobility coordinator offered me the pick of the remaining shifts, so I signed up for all the available weekend slots and then a couple of other week days.

Training?

As my volunteer role was to work in the Aquatic Centre technology team, I was invited attend venue-specific training on Saturday 7th July. Luckily I didn’t have much to rearrange even though it was all very last minute, but I had to cram in a visit to pick up my accreditation and uniform in the morning and head to the Olympic Park that afternoon. The queues were fairly long – but I only waited in line for an hour or so before I was security screened, photographed, measured and fitted for my uniform in quick succession.

I quickly jumped on the DLR to Stratford and made my way through the gate and walked to the designated meeting point where I joined a venue tour with many other eager volunteers.

I think nearly 3000 people were inducted and shown around that weekend, quite a feat. This was the first time most of us had been in the Olympic Park so many thousands of photos were snapped as we toured around, it was suitably impressive to see in the flesh. Here are some I took.

Entrance to the Aquatics Centre:

Behind the scenes, just outside the Media Centre:

The starting blocks:

The diving boards:

After the venue tour, I met the technology team leadership team and we discussed the types of activities we’d need to help with during the games, but in truth they could only be vague – because they expected it to be a fairly reactive issue resolution type scenario. The main aim though, was to ensure the smooth operation of the live sporting events taking place. It would be vital that each competition is accurately recorded, judged and broadcast. As volunteers we would have to help the venue technology manager coordinate the implementation and operation of technology services and support all key user groups of the aquatics parks—the media team, games officials, timekeeping teams, athletes, coaches and other Games Maker volunteers—with any audio/visual, networking or computing problems. So in reality, I could be doing anything!

My First Shift

My first volunteer shift was the morning before the Olympic Opening Ceremony, so there were thousands of volunteers scurrying around finishing last minute tasks. As far as I could tell, all the major setup had been done way beforehand, so most of what was left was just freshening the place up. I spent most of my day working in the Aquatics Media Centre, tidying cables, re-tuning TVs and re-testing competition information screens. It was a nice easy warm up for things to come, although I did get to say hello to Sharon Davies, swimming medallist from the ’76 games in Moscow.

Normal Service

In the quiet periods between live events, most of our time was spend sat sitting comfortably in the Technology Operations Centre porta-cabin, watching the excellent BBC Olympic coverage until a trouble ticket was raised, then we eagerly sprang into action.

During live sporting events, the technology volunteers like myself, were stationed amongst the media tribunes, with the remit of providing immediate hands-on support to hundreds of the World’s media. These were generally either TV or radio presenters, commentators, translators or journalists. Here’s where I was sat during a Water Polo match:

I was impressed by the level of engagement of my fellow volunteers, which was no doubt helped by the number of initiatives put in place to make Games Makers feel welcome, useful and part of a much wider team. Unsurprisingly there were some common demographic groups represented, i.e. retired folks, housewives and students.  There were lots of daily opportunities to get involved with competitions and we were each given a brief communication newsletter on shift check-in. It helped that there were well structured team rotas, free lunch vouchers, a very friendly atmosphere and that we were continually treated with respect by the fee paying public.

Now I have finished my volunteering experince, people ask – “Was it worth it? Would you do it again?” I’ll answer this question in the final part of this blog… likely to be published next week.