My Olympics: I’ll see you (and raise you too)
“There’s sport going on out there” was the wry, teasing observation of Sebastian Coe as he walked into the London2012.com website office this afternoon shortly after I clocked on at 3pm. Within eight hours he was handing up a bunch of flowers to Jessica Ennis on the top step of the Heptathlon medal podium. Her performance in the last discipline of the 800m was electric – from looking to be falling just behind in the last 250m, she put on the after-burners, fuelled by the noise of the crowd, and blasted to a famous victory. And if that wasn’t enough, within the hour Mo Farah did similar in a perfectly run 10,000m, staying on the shoulder of the front-runners until the last lap where he too kicked off and drove in on the energy of the 80,000 filling the stadium, doing that last lap in 53 seconds.
Before starting work this afternoon I took a wander across the Olympic Park to the far corner behind the Olympic Stadium by the River Lea canal. As it has been since I started in earnest a week ago today the vibe in the packed Park was festive, friendly and enthusiastic. This must go down as an Olympic Games characterised by these three things, as well as the creativity I wrote about in my first My Olympics post. London 2012 will be remembered I hope as the Friendly Games. And it’s not by accident. I did the training for the Gamesmaker programme, the London 2012 volunteer programme, and was really struck by two things: how being yourself and welcoming, with your individual personality, the visitors to London 2012 to make it a brilliant experience for them was very much stressed; also, the whole training programme was shot through with the promises London made in its bid – to inspire young people and to create a genuine legacy for the Games.
From the first day I cycled down the Lea canal to the Main Press Office in the Hackney Wick corner of the Olympic Park, tied up my trusty steed on the railings of the Transport Centre and walked into the complex the Gamesmakers have been super-friendly, with a real connection and camaraderie. The soldiers manning the security have been noticeably polite and displayed a well judged sense of humour. There is a real sense of goodwill which must make it one of the best implementations of volunteering ever.
It’s a total kick to think you’ve contributed in some small way to such a wonderful event. I’m totally buzzing from a day like no other. I took the photo below when I got home as a little souvenir of this 6 Gold Medal day. The crowd bursting into a spontaneous rendition of Hey Jude in the Velodrome thanks to the presence of Paul McCartney among them, in the wake of the Team GB women’s Track Cycling Team Pursuit team catching up their USA rivals as they won by an amazing margin setting their 6th world record in six runs. Jessica Ennis and her six-pack taking her rivals on the outside of the last bend and raising her arms in triumph and relief. Mo Farah embracing his daughter (and Wenlock, the mascot). The power of Greg Rutherford on his run-up. Andy Murray’s sudden lightness in the Mixed Doubles. The youthful potential of Adam Gemili executing an excellent 100m against major league opposition, undaunted. It’s been a day rammed with memories and inspiration to raise the spirits.