Ok, so not for a while yet.

We arrived back at the office, and settled down for a while. It was past 6pm now, and the public had once again been let into the stadium. Soon the evening events would begin, but not for a while yet, so we had a little chance to relax and catch up with a few bits and pieces.

It was time for our evening briefing and we were advised about the evening events, the number attending tonight (a full house, all 80,000 seats filled) and just what we were to expect as we moved around the stadium.
The highlight of the nights events would be the 100 metres final, it was going to be huge, with worldwide media coverage again and we had to be on our best behaviour!

So we settled down for the evening, and although we couldn’t watch the events live from the stadium, we would be able to keep in touch with what was going on upstairs/outside via the screens and PCs we had in the IT office.
And that was it for the evening. The end. We stayed in there all night, no faults came in, and then when it had finished we made our way home.

Ok, not quite, wouldn’t be much of a story now would it, if it ended like that!

So this is what really happened.

The first bit was correct, we settled down for the evening and fired up the PCs and TV screens so we could watch the events, not expecting much to happen if we were honest. Were we in for a surprise!

Our view of the evening started to change shortly after competition began and we were informed that there would be a shift in how we would operate. It was agreed that we needed to be able to react quickly if there were any faults raised on the tribunes, and as our route to them was getting more difficult to traverse (more people to get past, meaning slower response times) it had been agreed that we would operate from a couple of IT fast response desks in both the lower and upper tribunes. As these were the areas most likely to require any fault fixing quickly, it would be an ideal location to operate from. Both desks were set up with equipment too, so we could also keep an eye on the main systems from there, useful for fault finding. We also had some spare equipment stored in secure locations on each of the floors, meaning that we could replace things quickly if required. These areas were also highly restricted, so we would be able to get to faults quickly as there were less people here.

What would it mean for us tonight though we wondered?

Our IT manager set about arranging us into groups, asking for volunteers from the Gamesmakers, Acer and Atos people for each slot in the tribunes, as he felt that it would be a good idea if we were put into little shifts rather than just one long shift . I thought about this. It is not often that I do think, but in the back of my mind, I remembered the scheduled slot for the 100 metres final was towards the end of the evenings events. So I sat quietly as the others volunteered, and waited my turn, along with an Acer colleague, who smiled knowingly. And all of a sudden there was just the last slot left, and a handful of us left to fill it, result, it looked like I might, just might get to see the final of the 100 metres!

I watched as the others left the IT office and took up their slots in the tribunes, listening intently to their stories of what happened whilst they were up there when they returned to hand over. Remember that we could hear the noise from the crowds in our IT room, we were only about 10 feet away from it after all! It sounded awesome, the noise and the stories, and the atmosphere. I was starting to get a little bit excited.

My slot in the tribunes was scheduled to start at 9pm, and time soon ticked on until it was time for us to go up. Our IT manager waved us on up with a smile, informing us that it was time to replace the other shift.

We made our way up to the tribunes, emerging from the lift we walked to the entrance of the seating area of the stadium. The noise and atmosphere was immense, this was the first real time I had the chance to witness the arena full to bursting, cheering, clapping, shouting encouragement. It was an awesome sight.
We arrived at our IT desk in the lower tribunes, one of the best spots out there, armed with paper, pens, water and big grins. The team we replaced gave up their slots, they had witnessed some fantastic sport so far, so we knew we would be in for a treat.

Our view from our desk on the lower tribunes.

Our view from our desk on the lower tribunes.

We settled down and made ourselves comfortable. The management team responsible for the tribunes checked to make sure we were who we said we were, as they needed to ensure that only the correct people were stationed in the tribunes. Often members of the public and some of the press would try and get into areas they weren’t meant too, so the tribune management team had their hands full. I did check with them and they were confident that we were stationed exactly where we should be. Handily it had a fantastic view of the final straight, we were almost right opposite the finish line. You couldn’t afford to pay for these seats even if they were available to buy!

We monitored the systems and watched some of the events, and time ticked on.

All of a sudden one of the tribune management team rushed over shouting “we need IT support”. I was keen to join in, so leapt up from my seat, along with an Acer colleague, and we then followed the tribune management person through the crowds of press, over the wiring, around the cameras to the desk reporting a fault. The screen was dead, so we quickly checked it and decided that a PC reboot would be a good logical next step, we were in a rush and wanted to get it working ASAP. The chap using the screen was also keen, partly because he was reporting live on a radio station somewhere, and had to lean over to another screen to see what was going on, so we worked quickly and quietly, and within a couple of minutes we had the system back up and running, and the chap could sit back in his own chair and see the results from his own screen. He and his colleague smiled, and he hardly missed a beat as he continued his commentary of the race. Proper professionals these peeps!
We walked back to our station, kicking out some squatters who had camped on our seats (the tribune management team weren’t too happy with them either, and promptly frogged marched them out of our area!) and settled back down, ready and waiting for the next call to action!

The rest of our slot was relatively quiet, we did have another call to action, but I let the others deal with that one, didn’t want them to miss out on some of the fun too!

Time ticked on, and soon it would be time for the 100 metres final, and little did we know but we were in for something awesome that we would never forget. We had been joined at our posts too, by our IT manager with a big grin on his face. He was turning out to be a really top bloke.

The announcements came over the audio system, and the large screens around the arena proclaimed the start of the 100 metres final. The noise in the arena started to build as the athletes took to the track. And then they started to announce the names of the athletes.
Each one got a cheer that could deafen you. Until…..

Usain Bolt
His name was announced, and his picture was shown on the huge screens. It was almost a fingers in the ear job as the noise from the spectators threatened to destroy the arena. And he played to it too! Loving every minute.

A hush descended on the arena as the athletes prepared themselves on the start line. And I pinched myself, I really did, I was about to witness a race between the fastest people in the world only about 20 metres away from where I was sitting, something I would never see again.
Oh and hang on, I was one of a handful of Gamesmakers, sat out in the Olympic Stadium watching the 100 metres final. Lucky Lucky Lucky!

The silence was charged, the spectators, all 80,000, the press, the TV crews, the timing clerks, and a few million people around the world watching the events unfold live were waiting, patiently waiting, for the gun to go off.

Bang
Wall of noise, everybody in the stadium standing, shouting and cheering (well apart from the media, who stayed at their posts), camera flashes lighting up the stadium and 10 seconds of total all encompassing excitement, and then it was over, although the cheering kept going for a lot longer as Usain completed his victory lap, posing for all the pictures, drinking in the adulation and praise.

It was awesome, the experience of a lifetime, something I will never forget, and I got video of it too. An experience I will remember and share.

And I learnt something too today. Usain Bolt has a right to be as confident as he is, he deserves it. He works hard to be the best he can be, and at the moment, that is as the best 100 metres sprinter in the world. Our shifts on the tribunes carried onto 11pm that night, and during that time, we watched as Usain spent time with every TV crew, each one got their interview. He spent over an hour doing this, and smiled all the way. Some of the public remained in the stadium, and he smiled and posed for them too. Tonight we saw the other side to him, a truly nice person, with time for others. And this wouldn’t be the first time he would show this during the week either.

We packed up for the evening, making sure all the machines were switched off and covered for the morning, and made our way down to the IT office.
The others had already left, but we didn’t mind, we had witnessed something awesome tonight, and we collected our things and made our way out of the arena and the park. So many people still leaving, so many Gamesmakers still at work, smiling and laughing and joking with the public. These guys were the real heroes of the day, not us, we were the lucky ones, and a part of me felt guilty.

We proceeded out of the park on our way home, reflecting on what had happened today, it had been a fantastic day, and we had witnessed far more than we were expecting.

Things couldn’t get any better could they? Really? Well they could and they would!

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