Category: Life

As mentioned before, I couldn’t stay away and to that end I had purchased 7 tickets for the Paralympics in the Olympic stadium.
The day arrived and I made sure I had all the things I needed, including my Olympic pass and my Olympic Jacket and made my way up to London. I had a meeting in London in the morning, so I couldn’t dress completely casual, but was able to wear black trousers and a suitable shirt.

It was another beautiful day.

Because I was going to the Paralympics I made sure that I had packed my decent camera with me, and I noticed quite a few Olympic themed items along my walk along the Thames path as I made my way to my meeting.

He is taller than St Pauls cathedral!

He is taller than St Pauls cathedral!

Pirate Wenlock, yarr me hearties!

Pirate Wenlock, yarr me hearties!

An early morning stretch is important

An early morning stretch is important

The first one I passed on my walk was the “early morning stretch” outside Southwark Cathedral. Not sure how many others noticed him, not everyone knows about Southwark Cathedral or where it is. It’s a beautiful place, right next to London Bridge rail station, and when I am lucky and working in that part of London, I get to walk past the cathedral on my way to the office or meeting.

Continuing my walk along the riverbank, I noticed the two Wenlock figures. I was really pleased that I had my camera with me that morning!

The meeting was fine, we discussed lots and I doubt whether those of you reading this would be that interested to be honest, so we must skip forward a few hours.

The meeting finished, and once again I was outside in the bright and warm sunshine. It was back to the London Underground and the route I considered that I knew well, from London Bridge to Stratford station using the Jubilee line.
And the memories started to come flooding back, the sights and smells of the line, and then to be met with all the paraphernalia of the games as I arrived at Stratford station.

It was almost like I hadn’t been away, although the Olympic rings had now been replaced with the Paralympic symbol the atmosphere was the same. Would my passcard work I wondered. Well I decided not to find out, there was no point as I had tickets to the park and stadium anyway.

I spent the day wandering around the park, doing all the things that I didn’t get the chance to do whilst volunteering there. The atmosphere was electric and the support stands were fantastic. I even got the chance to pose with the Paralympic torch, not lit, but a great experience.

Soon it was time to meet up with the rest of my party. This would be the first time for them, and I was eager to show them around as much as I could.

to be continued….


I couldn’t stay away.

I had managed for a few weeks, although we did have a catch up with the team in the pub just outside the park. Those who were paid to work there brought us up to speed with what had been happening in and around the stadium.

The park and the stadium were again closed to the public, getting ready for the Paralympics this time. All the signage had been changed and the transformation was moving apace. The team were in good spirits, and we spent a happy evening reminiscing and discussing the changes. Some of the technical equipment was now gone, with more seats available for the public this time, which was nice. We posed for more piccies, and towards the end of the evening, made our way to the gates of the park. Some of us had our passcards, but none of us were brave enough to try and gain entry tonight. We made our way home, happy and sad.

And for a while i remembered the place, but didn’t do too much about it.

And then the Paralympics started, and i felt the buzz again. I could see where I worked on the telly, and again the park looked awesome, and the athletics were awesome too, as I watched from afar.
And it was good, I particularly liked the Wheelchair Rugby (or Murderball as it is known) and I got really into the Paralympics. I still didn’t regret my decision not to volunteer for the Paralympics, because it meant that someone else would have the chance to experience what I experienced.

But I did miss it. I missed the atmosphere and the excitement and my fellow Gamesmakers.

So a few days into the Paralympics, I knew I had to go back there, and decided to try and get hold of some tickets for the athletics in the main arena.
Getting tickets was hard, really hard, but I persevered, and somehow, I got through the first phase of the process and suddenly had 7 tickets for the Paralympics in the Olympic Stadium on Wednesday evening (for me and my sister and her family, and my other half and her niece too) sitting in my basket. Now for those of you who have not bought tickets to the Olympics or Paralympics, you get a time limit to make your decision, about 45 seconds, otherwise the tickets are released back into the system. So you don’t get long to make a decision.

And I genuinely didn’t know whether my 6 other ticket holders would want to go, or whether there were others perhaps who I had missed.

25 seconds, panic was setting in now, should I shouldn’t I?

10 seconds, come on Ian make a decision!
So I did, I hit confirm. And it took me to the next page and another 45 second clock. This time to confirm the payment, which wasn’t a totally trivial sum!
By now though, in my mind, I had passed the point of no return, so I filled in the boxes as quickly as I could without making any mistakes and once again hit confirm.
It took me to a printing page, to print out my tickets, which I did straight away, and there I was, clutching 7 Paralympic tickets in my hand. I was going back, and really looking forward to it too. Now I just hoped that the others wanted to come along too!

I needn’t have worried, they were ecstatic.
Time to wait for the day to arrive 🙂 .

So the last event of the London 2012 Olympic Games had just finished, but there was still a lot more to see and do in the Olympic stadium, and the crowd wouldn’t be going anywhere for a bit either!

Although the events had finished, the night was not yet over and we still had a lot of the medals ceremonies to complete, but no one was going anywhere, we all wanted to stay and witness the closure of one of the best nights of sports in our lives.

I’m not sure how it must have felt for the athletes, but we were all waiting eagerly for the medal ceremonies to start. Keen to properly recognise them for their hard work tonight, years of training paying off in that one moment under the spotlight. Most of them were making their way through the round of TV and media interviews, and we would have to wait a bit for some of the medal ceremonies to start, but none of us minded we were looking forward to it all, and it was a nice pleasant if a little chilly night too.

We watched many medal ceremonies taking place before us, and we stood for all the national anthems. Although we were working there, it was important that we joined in and showed our respect for all the nationalities that were being represented.

Soon it was time for the medallists from the 4×100 metres final team to take to the podium. The crowd were in awe of what they had seen tonight, and richly rewarded all the teams who received their medals. Of course the crowds biggest cheer was reserved for the winners, the Olympic champions and new world record holders!
And they celebrated in style, once the national anthem had finished, each one of them stayed on their podium place and performed their unique poses for the crowd, who lapped it all up, we all did, the stadium was lit up by thousands of camera flashes as we tried to capture the spirit and the emotion of the evening. But we couldn’t capture the noise, that would just have to stay part of our memories.

There was still more to come, the 10,000 metres final medal ceremony. We had waited the entire evening for this, and now we would be rewarded.

It was time for Mo to step onto the podium, the number one spot, and the crowd went wild again. It was almost as if every single person there had kept something back a bit earlier, because the noise seemed even louder that earlier. I couldn’t believe it, but we all loved him, and it showed, again everyone in the stadium was standing up, even the press and media, the camera teams, the presenters the whole lot.

We sang our national anthem, loudly and with effort and enthusiasm, and of course totally worshipped Mo. It was his moment, he was number one, and we made sure that he knew it!

And then it was over, he stepped off the podium, and made his way to the press who were waiting trackside to speak to him. The stadium remained full though, no one had left yet, they were all still straining to catch another glimpse of Mo.
Then all of a sudden mid way through his interview with the press, he was joined by a fellow athlete.

Usain Bolt, who had only an hour ago run across the finish line for the 4×100 metres performing the MoBot came out of the press and media interview area in one of the stadium tunnel entrances where he was being interviewed and joined Mo.
He hugged Mo and grinning they both chatted with each other, congratulating each other on their wins I hope!

And then, we were witness to a scene that appeared in so many photographs sent around the world, appearing on TV, in papers and magazines. Mo and Usain on the top step of the medal rostrum, each performing the others signature pose. An event that we were lucky to see live, in the flesh, there in front of us. A fitting end to the evenings events, and the London 2012 Olympics.






And that was it, the end. Well not really.

Yes the spectators were now leaving, but we still had work to do. We had all the PCs and screens to shut down for the evening, which we proceeded to do. There was still quite a few of us about, and most of us had been outside in the tribunes watching the final events, so it didn’t take us long, and within about 30 minutes we were back in our IT room for the last time.

We still had some stuff to do, so we packed up a few items, and generally tidied the place up. None of us really wanted to leave or say good bye, and we agreed to keep in touch, taking notes of e-mail addresses so that we could stay in contact and relive our memories.
We took and posed for photos whilst we were in the office, making sure we captured as much as we could before we left for the final time. And we readied ourselves to leave, making sure we had all our stuff to take home with us. But before we would leave, our IT manager suggested an idea, lets get out there onto the track and get some group photos. We all agreed that this was a great idea, promptly dropped out belongings and made our way to the entrance tunnel (where the flame was) and made our way out into the stadium.

But there was a problem, before we could get out onto the track, we were stopped, by an official who forcibly informed us that as the closing ceremony was being set up, no one would be permitted onto the track. We explained that we only wanted to take a few group photos, but she was clear, even with our pass levels, we were not permitted onto the track tonight.

Undeterred we hatched a plan, we would still get onto the track tonight, but via a different route. We headed upstairs to the flame viewing area and took some group photos there first.

Some of the great team I got to work with.

Some of the great team I got to work with.

We took lots of photos, far more than I can show here, but we made sure that we captured everyone and made sure that each camera had some photos from the evening on them.

And unchallenged, we made our way down to the track. It was busy down there, lots of things going on, lots of machinery bringing in the closing ceremony set, so we didn’t hand around for long, but we again got some pictures , and walked around a bit, until we got back to the relative safety of the media and TV areas, and we still had work to do!

My feet on the London 2012 Olympic track

My feet on the London 2012 Olympic track

We spent the rest of the evening packing up some of the PCs and screens that were no longer required. Although the closing ceremony was to be televised, many of the media and TV companies were packing up and many of the shots of the closing ceremony would be supplied by the OBS rather than the TV companies own cameras and systems. So we let them pack up, and worked around them, although to be honest, most had already upped and left.

So we continued our work, packing up and making sure everything was neat and tidy. We took some more pictures, and we got a few pics of us on the track, and then before we knew it we had finished our tasks and we could make our way down to the office.
Some of us picked up some left over booty on our way, mainly the press event guides and the odd few bits left out and about, but not too much.
We took a final look back over our shoulders at our workplace for the last 4 weeks, and revelled in the sight before us. It had been a fantastic time, probably one of the times of our lives, we had seen and experience so much and enjoyed it so much. We would be sad to leave it behind, but our time there had been epic and would provide so many memories for such a long time and while part of me wished I could be there as part of the Paralympic team, another part of me was pleased that someone else would get to work here and see the amazing sights, feeling the amazing atmosphere.

Using the press and media lifts for the last time, we made our way back downstairs. The door people had now long gone, only us and the closing ceremony crew were still there and our passage through the stadium was easier again.

We arrived back in our office, most of us worn out, but happy, and sad too. We surveyed our office, took some final snaps, and packed away all our goodies. We noted down e-mail addresses and agreed to keep in touch (or at least try too) and said our goodbyes. We collected our final few extra goodies, pin badges (if we had completed a number of shifts we could get a bronze silver or gold IT team member badge, pretty rare these ones!) and other bits we may have snaffled!

And then it was time to leave, for the final time. A few of us picked up our stuff and left together, through our entrance tunnel past the flame for the final time. I took a few cheeky snaps of the props for the closing ceremony being taken out onto the field of play, and left to the sound of the security team shouting at me not to take any pictures! Oh well, sorry!

Making our way out of the stadium, past the security gates and the entrance ways for the last time, we stopped a few times to take pictures and take in the view for the last time. It was a beautiful night, and a fitting end to our time there.

And then, we were outside the park, making our way to Stratford station, a few final snaps, and goodbyes and then there I was alone in the station (well there were lots of others there, but all my colleagues had gone). A few final pictures of the station, and then I was on a tube heading south.

The rest of the journey was largely uneventful, and I sat contemplating what I had been part of. A truly amazing time, and I genuinely wished the Paralympic games volunteers the best, hoping that they too would enjoy the stadium as much as I had.

And that was it, well sort of, could I really keep away????

You know the drill by now.

We said goodbye to the day shift, and wished them well, it was unlikely we would ever see any of them again, so we parted like old friends agreeing that we should all meet up one day, and maybe just maybe we should volunteer for Glasgow, or Rio. Some would be back for the Paralympics, but most wouldn’t, and a couple would be here tomorrow night for the closing ceremony, lucky devils. I would not, and like many others here tonight, this would be my last shift here.

We were still a bit early for our shifts though, and as the morning shift had completed all the activities we had about 30 mins to fill before we were needed. I showed a couple the snaps I had taken of the flame to my fellow gamesmakers, and one was keen to have her own picture taken next to the flame too and being the gentleman I am, I was happy to help. We made our way to the flame area, and took a few pictures. I had kept my camera with me, so took a few more, focussing this time on the area where we would be working later. As the press and media cameras were all located here, it wasn’t often that people got to see this area, so I was keen to make sure it was captured.

The Flame, Union Jack and Olympic flag

The Flame, Union Jack and Olympic flag

The press and media area, showing the upper tribunes

The press and media area, showing the upper tribunes

The press and media area showing the lower tribunes.

The press and media area showing the lower tribunes.

We mooched around for a bit, but we couldn’t stay long, we had to be back in the office, ready for our evening briefing.
Our briefing kicked off, tonight would be a biggie, with some large events, many finals tonight, including the 10k metres and the 4×100 metres final. There were others too, and some medal ceremonies from earlier that also needed to be completed.
We were told to be on our best behaviour, as tonight was so big, and also that it would be a late one, so be prepared.

We received our tasks from our IT manager for the last time. I would be in the upper tribunes tonight, I didn’t mind the view was fantastic, and I knew that I would experience lots from up there, and be able to take some brilliant pictures.
And on the subject of pictures, we all got together in the office and took some pics there too, not beautiful, but key memories, of friends and colleagues and well, stuff in general.
And off we went, off to our last shifts, taking what we needed, jackets drinks, cameras etc and made our way out of the office, past the door keepers, making sure we said hello, and smiled and chatted with them for a bit. And we were on our way, up to the tribunes, taking it all in for the final shift.

We picked up some refreshments and made our way to the IT support area for the evening. Most of us had brought our cameras with us, and we took as many pictures as we could. Here is one of me, I know I haven’t shared any with me in them yet, but here is proof I was there (yes that is me, I promise!)

Me, honest, and this was our technical area for the evening, a fantastic view too.

Me, honest, and this was our technical area for the evening, a fantastic view too.

We settled down for the evening, ready and waiting for any faults to come in. We generally got the odd one, but largely because of all the preparation that we carried out each time, our actual shifts in the tribunes during competition time were largely quiet. We had already dealt with most of the problems by the time competition had started, and we were so well versed now, that most problems could be resolved in minutes, even if we needed to swap out equipment. Tonight was no exception, well prepared and well versed we quickly fixed any of the issues that arose and a lot of time tonight was spent watching the events below us.

We took lots of pictures too, of the events, and colleagues and our surroundings. We also kept in touch with other events happening in other stadiums. Tonight was also the final of the diving, and although our systems couldn’t show us the events in the other arenas, we were able to keep abreast of progress via some of the apps on our mobiles, which meant that we were well informed of what was going on in the neighbouring arenas.

By the time competition started, the stadium was full to bursting, every seat filled, the press and media areas were full, and when I looked around, I couldn’t see any empty seats, it was an amazing sight.
And the spectators were in a fantastic mood, cheering every event, getting behind every athlete in the stadium, acknowledging that they were watching the best of the best, in the world.

I mentioned before, how the spectators would cheer everyone, and show their appreciation, and tonight I would see it a few times.
The first time was when Mo Farah’s time came to shine. He was already an Olympic champion, and he was quite rightly greeted like one. The sound was incredible when he walked onto the track, but this was nothing, it paled into insignificance against what we were about to hear and see.
Again the crowd fell silent as the we watched them take their places on the track. You could hear a pin drop. And then Bang, the gun goes off, and the noise from the crowd could rival a plane taking off. But this time it was different, you could hear the cheering move around the stadium as Mo was running around the track. Every time he went past, the noise would increase, and you could follow him and the noise as he continued to run.
But this was nothing, a mere prelude to what would come.
The final lap. By this time the crowd were in a total frenzy, the cheering had escalated to almost beyond comfortable, no longer was it following Mo as he ran around the track, it was all around, and as he came along the final straight, it seemed it couldn’t get any louder. Well until he crossed the line that is, and then I am sure we almost took the roof off the stadium, and I reckon you could have heard us in the Shard (with the windows closed!).

And I saw something I hadn’t seen before.

We were used to the spectators giving standing ovations for many events, not all but certainly a few, and this was no exception. We knew that the press and media had to work hard out there, often in not the best of conditions and therefore although they noticed what was going on, they would rarely cheer or join in with the celebrations, which was understandable, there were there to do a job and many of them were long standing professionals, and you could hardly cheer mid way through an important broadcast now could you! But this time was different, the spirit of the London 2012 Olympics had taken a firm hold, this time for the first time in my time there, we witnessed all the press and media standing too, every last one, standing, clapping and cheering. It was one of my most memorable times there, a vision that will stay with me for the rest of my life, everyone who could stand did, and everyone regardless of their nationality cheered and celebrated. It was a very moving spectacle.

And there was more. The spectators were in the mood tonight, and for every final they cheered and acknowledged the performances of the world class athletes before them.
And then

Well you knew it was coming, if you have been following this blog, you know what to expect!

Usain Bolt
The spectators love him, and he loves the spectators. Cheering his every move his every action. He was playing to the crowd, and the Gamesmakers on the track, and everyone loved it.
Tonight he would again perform for us, showing us just how good he was and also how much of a team player he was too.
The noise was immense, this was the last event of the night, and the crowd had already been whipped up into a frenzy by the earlier events, every one.
Silence as they took their positions on the track, waiting for the starter to fire his pistol, and then wham, a wall of noise, cheering, willing, demanding a good race, and they got it.
By the time Usain Bolt took the baton, the entire stadium was on their feet. I could hardly hear now, the noise was so loud, I had ringing in my ears.
And the team won, a thrilling final, the crowd remained wild, still standing they gave another standing ovation, and as Usain crossed the line, he again showed us all what a truly nice person he is.
How? Why?
He ran across the line, performing the MoBot.
What an individual, here he was helping his team to win the 4×100 metres, and yet he takes the time not to revel in his own glory, but to recognise the performance of a fellow athlete in a completely different event. He again showed us, that yes he does perform to the crowd, but underneath it all, he is a really nice person.

Oh and they broke the world record too, just to add some icing onto the cake.

And it didn’t end there, oh no, not by a long way, although the events had finished, there was still a lot going on, and a lot more to come.

I knew this day would come. Of course I did, but it didn’t make it any better, or less poignant or easier.

It was the afternoon of Saturday 11th August, and it was a beautiful day a proper summers day. My shift didn’t start until 16:30 today, but I wanted to get to the Olympic park early, partly because I wanted to walk around the park a bit, and purchase some more Olympic memorabilia. It sounds crazy I know, but I wanted stuff that I could look back on in years to come, and say “I was there, I was part of one of the greatest sporting events in the world, and it was amazing”

I put on my Olympics uniform for the last time, the mix of purple and cream. The cream trousers that I had never managed to keep clean in my role for more than 2 or 3 hours, the trainers that were so painful in the early days, the jacket that could fold into itself, the socks, shirts etc. I had not wanted to wear it before I had started my shifts, I had joked about the colour, and how quickly the trousers would become mucky and dirty, but now I felt sad that I wouldn’t be wearing it again.
It meant that it was coming close to the end, the end of the best 4 weeks, the end of the fun, and the hard work scrabbling around on my hands and knees, and the people, the atmosphere and the beauty of the stadium.

But I couldn’t stop it and I still had today to savor, a day that was bound to be full of entertainment, fun and memories.

I made my way to the stadium for my last shift, taking time to absorb the views, contemplating and thinking, enjoying the moment, the journey, the sights and sounds and the feelings.
I arrived at Stratford station and made my way to the park. The station was busy but everyone was happy and smiling, the security teams ever efficient and smiling too. The gamesmakers with their pink foam hands, and their megaphones, all smiling, all happy, all working hard.
The park was again heaving, full of people, adults and children all enjoying their time there, busy, how it should be, as I made my way towards the Gamesmaker check in for the final time. This was the last day I would visit this check in, and it was still quiet and I walked straight up to a desk to pick up my final booty. Today we got a limited edition baton, as well as our Gamesmaker news, the suntan lotion, and crispy snack, cup of tea, bottle of water etc.
Being in the position we were in, I had also managed to pick up a few other items over the past few days, a special edition mousemat, and a games compendium listing all the olympic events since the start of the modern games. So I had quite a collection now, especially with all my official stuff too.

My last shift, my last shift, my last shift.

I arrived at the IT office, after gazing up at the majesty of the flame for one last time.
The team in the IT office were a wee bit surprised, I was 3 hours early! I quickly explained that I was here early to go around the park and do some shopping and take it all in for the final time before I left this place forever. They agreed that was a good idea, and let me drop my stuff off before making my way out of the office again. Being in our own office, I knew my stuff would be safe there, and I grabbed my camera to take with me, today I was going to get all those snaps I wanted,it was just too good an opportunity to miss!
At the time of day I arrived at the stadium, the morning events had finished and the stadium was closed to the public, which meant that I could move around freely. I had almost full access to the stadium anyway so I wasn’t doing anything wrong by mooching around, and I thought to myself that being my Last day here and I couldn’t really be fired now, lets take a chance to have a proper look about!
A key thought running through my mind was to get a bit closer to that flame and take some proper pictures!

So that’s what I did, my access level let me through to the area where the flame was, although I couldn’t get too close for safety reasons, but I could get close enough, and rattled off a couple of shots. Somewhat luckily I met a fellow Gamesmaker up there too, who had the same idea as me, so we agreed to take pictures of each other standing next to the flame, result! One for the photo album!

Image from the public area just above the flame, the heat was intense

Image from the public area just above the flame, the heat was intense

Image from the restricted area near the flame, this is the same view as the fixed camera seen on the TV

Image from the restricted area near the flame, this is the same view as the fixed camera seen on the TV

conscious that I didn’t want to out stay my welcome, I quickly stowed my camera back in my pocket, and made my way away from the flame area and out of the stadium, into the park, I still some had gifts and pressies to get.
This meant queuing, although not for too long, each queue would be about 30 mins or so, in the heat, which although was a bit uncomfortable, I couldn’t and wouldn’t grumble. Far better than being in the rain, and of course being in my uniform meant that I got asked lots of questions about my role and the park, which I was happy to answer!
And it was my last day, I was sad, but also keen to enjoy it.

The time queueing for each of the superstores passed quite quickly and it wasn’t long before I had picked up what I wanted, so I spent the rest of my time wandering around the park. Like the rest of the visitors, once in the park you got access to a range of areas,and although you couldn’t gain access to any venues unless you had the relevant ticket or pass there was plenty to see and do in the Olympic park. It was an experience all of its own, integral to the other arenas, but able to stand up on its own. Anyway I wasn’t there to look inside the other venues though, I was there to enjoy the park.
And it was beautiful, huge but beautiful, heaving and full but no less beautiful, probably more so. It was so nice to see everybody enjoying the park and what it had to offer.

I wandered around many of the areas, took in the sights and some of the exhibits. It was great, and I had a nice relaxing time.
But it wasn’t long before I needed to make my way back to the Olympic stadium. Although it wasn’t too far away, I had to make sure that I had enough time to cross the park, with all the other visitors to get past, and to take the odd snap on the way too, and still get there in time to start my shift.

What would happen tonight, my last night in the stadium, what would I see and do tonight? Would it be any good?

Any good, ha! Little did I know at the time, that tonight was going to be awesome, and possibly the best night there so far.

I was in for a treat, but I didn’t know it yet 😉

To be continued……

The Porcupines in action[/caption]Interesting, I have just picked through the athletics biographical entry list book that I nabbed before I left the Olympics, and it mentions that the Decathlon started on the 8th of August, So today was day 2 of the decathlon. Oh well, as we were largely busy peeps we obviously didn’t notice the decathlon going on yesterday too!.

Anyway there were lots of other events too, some big ones, with some top class athletes. Ok these were qualifiers, but the atmosphere was still electric, and there were many stars that we wanted to see today.

Now although this blog has only been written today, long after the events of the Olympics and outside have taken place, the emotions I was feeling at the time were as written here.
And today I wanted a glimpse of a great athlete in action, one who would appear in both the Olympics and Paralympics. Of course I wanted to see Oscar in action. He was becoming a bit of a poster boy for the spirit of the games and the entire crowd wanted to see him in the qualifiers of the 4x 400 metres. We wanted to see him in action, how quick was he, could he take the team to the final, and we wanted to see the performer in action.

Soon the time came for qualifiers, and the entire arena switched focus for a while from the Decathletes to the those who would be running around the track.
And there he was, standing virtually in front of where I was sitting (ok a long way down, but at least on my side of the track). He looked amazing, pumped up and ready to go, and playing to the crowd. And the crowd were loving it, the tension and atmosphere was electric and expectant.
The athletes lined up on their spots ready, and the crowd fell silent.
We waited, all was hushed, and then the gun went off, and the noise became intense. Oscar was at the 3rd position, so we had a bit to wait, but by this time we were totally absorbed in the action, and then….

Oscar waiting on the track

Oscar waiting on the track

Something went wrong, the chap in position 2 lost the baton, and that was sort of it, we saw the team looking crestfallen, whilst the rest of the teams made it successfully around the track to the finish line. It was a disappointment for all those on the track, and those of us watching. We didn’t get to see him run.

Oscar realises that he wont get his chance to run

Oscar realises that he wont get his chance to run

Soon we were back to the rest of the athletics, time couldn’t wait, and neither could the stadium. There was so much going on, high jumps, hammer throws and pole vaults, so much to watch so much to be absorbed in, and keep up with. It was a busy day, and most of us working in the stadium had been up since stupid o’clock just to be there!

One of the things that most people watching via the TV don’t get to see is the hard work and technology that is employed around the stadium to make it all work. 2 of these things are the porcupines, fantastic little remote-controlled cars that are used to bring the javelins and the hammers and shot puts back. They were brilliant, especially when they were racing around the field. Handling those cars looked like lots of fun, but I didn’t envy the two controllers, who had to sit out in the baking sun for 4 hours, at least we had the canopy and a regular supply of drinks and snacks.

The Porcupines in action

It had been a fantastic morning, but by 13:30 we were getting mighty hungry, we had been there since 09:00. So we took it in turns to nip down to the canteen, grab some lunch and come back to ensure that the area was covered until the end of our shifts.
We caught the end and reflected on a fantastic day as we made our way back to the IT office.

What a great day, I had met an Olympic champion, and seen some great events. I reflected on my time here as I made my way out of the stadium and park for the penultimate time. My next shift was on Saturday the 11th August, my last shift here, and the final day of events. What would it hold in store I wondered??

Well the answer is lots, but I will get to that in the next installment. It is likely to be a longer installment, there was lots and lots to do, and it would be my last day as a “free agent” in the Olympic park.

My last day.

And by crikey it was early, proper early this one, a 06:45am start.

Now I know that there were many other Gamesmakers who had to start a lot earlier, and leave a lot later, so I shouldn’t grumble. But for those of us in the IT team who were scheduled in today, this would be our earliest shift.

Towards the start of this blog, I mentioned that we had been informed that we needed to be in the IT office at the time our shift started. For me this morning, that would have meant waking up at 03:30am, which did not fill me with Joy. So I checked with the the Acer and Atos colleagues who were on the same shift, to find out what time they needed to be there. Their shifts started at 7am and not 06:45, and as we couldn’t start work without them (we were a team) I made a decision that I would aim for that time too. This was important, as due to the train times it would mean at least another hour in bed, which was a very good thing.

Cool crisp and early, I made my way towards the park. Naturally the roads and trains were quieter, and the journey was quite pleasant. It was still busy at the entrance to the park though, when I arrived, but everyone was still smiling and happy, the power of the Olympic spirit was still strong, and probably getting stronger. I was suprised at how busy the park was, even at this time in the morning as I made my way through the crowds to the staff entrance, but I still didn’t need to queue to get through the Gamesmaker check-in, which was nice. I picked up my penultimate range of goodies, this time a gold pin badge, which was nice, grabbed some suntan cream, a cup of coffee and made my way into the office for 7am. As planned, I wasn’t late, we were all just arriving.

But why on earth were we here so early today? Well today was the start of the Decathlon, which kicked off at 9am, not 10 am like the rest of the events, hence us needing start an hour early. We and they had lots to do!

Straight out onto the Tribunes we went, we couldn’t hang about this morning, so we got working as soon as we could. Everything was a hive of activity, and even more of the press and media were about this morning, getting ready themselves for the main event. Although there would be other events this morning, the focus would be on the first day of competition for the Decathlon. There were a lot of athletes competing today, and lots of press too.

We quickly got to work, checking equipment, swapping any that was faulty, and making sure everything was ready. We were well skilled in this now, like a well oiled machine, and we were finished well in time for the start of the events this morning.

We were getting used to the stars that we saw each morning, a vairety of national and international TV presenters, radio presenters and other associated media. Most we would smile to, some we would say good morning to, and on occassion we would share a few words with some. However we were all working, so we were keen not to disturb them, or cause ourselves problems by not completing our rounds in time.
This morning was different though, well for me it was anyway. Today was the Decathlon, and reporting on one of the many radio stations that broadcast from the Arena, was Daley Thompson. Daley Thompson for me was a local hero, he used to train at our local lesiure centre, when my mum worked there on the reception desk. And it was during this time that he was performing on the world stage, and ultimately winning his Olympic gold medal in 1984. I had already walked past him during my rounds, and didn’t speak to him as he looked pretty busy on the phone and getting ready for his slot on the radio, so I thought it best not to disturb him.

But that was a while ago and now we had finished our rounds, and I could see Daley from where we were standing. I pondered for a bit on whether I should pop over and say hello, but he was still busy on the phone.
And all of a sudden, he was off the phone, and in a rare moment, I made a snap decision, and decided I would sieze my once in a lifetime chance to meet an Olympic champion!
I walked up to him, smiled and said good morning. Offering my hand he smiled and shook it. Wow what a grip, a proper grip, a proper handshake. I was turning into a sort of mush in awe of this truely great athlete, so I quickly explained that I was from the same town he used to train in, and really wanted to say hello, and sorry for disturbing him. His smile was huge, and we spent a few moments discussing the past, and what had happened to the old leisure centre that he used to use. He still lives relatively close and mentioned that he had used the new centre too, which although didn’t have the same memories was still a very nice, and well equipped centre, the pool is olympic sized too! We spoke some more, and I thanked him for his time and mentioned that I enjoyed watching him win his gold medal, an awesome time.
And that was it, I made my way back to the rest of the team, now I had the huge smile on my face.
Of course I forgot to get a photo, which I would regret later on, but for the moment, I was happy, I had met an Olympic legend!

Back in the IT office, we were split up again, and again today I would get the upper tribunes to manage and look after. Popping my camera in my pockets, and making sure I had some food, I made my up to the upper tribunes, via the tea and coffee area to grab a bre of course.

The events were awesome, so much going on, so much to watch. We of course had the odd machine to look over, but as we had completed our morning checks we often didn’t get many faults, and could therefore enjoy the events. We did spend some time on crowd control, making sure that members of the public didn’t sit in restricted areas, and continued to watch the systems, and make sure we were ready in case we were needed.

Mid jump.

Mid jump.

Wenlock running on the track

Wenlock running on the track

To be continued.

Yeah right.

I’m a Gamesmaker in the Olympic Stadium, during the Olympics and so far I have witnessed the Opening Ceremony (3 times in the stadium, once via the TV) seen the 100 metres final live from one of the best seats in the house, and witnessed an entire morning of events yesterday. So what would happen today I wonder.

At the start of our time in the stadium we had been informed that we shouldn’t take any pictures, however that was before the opening ceremony had been shared with the world, and as you can see from my previous blogs, I had begun to take more pictures of the events. Each morning I was still taking my laptop in its rucksack in with me, although over the past few days I had not had any chance to do any work on it! However it did have space in it for the odd item here and there, and now that I was starting to take more pictures on my phone, I thought it would be a good time to pack a decent bridge camera with me (Cannon G10), to take some better snaps. So I stowed it in my laptop rucksack and left the house.

Still without my hat (not found it yet) but at lest now without the painful feet, I made my way to the Olympic park. Today was a sunny morning, lovely and warm. The crowds were again huge, the Olympic spirit was still in evidence, and all the Gamesmakers were cheerful and smiling broadly as I entered the park. The security teams were in a good mood too, in fact everyone was in a good mood this morning.

Again I proceeded through the Gamesmaker check in without incident, still hardly anyone there so no queues at this time in the morning. I stopped checking for any hats a long time ago, mine had gone, never to return.
I collected my booty, more pin badges, we already had a daily diary, and now we were getting other items too. I set myself up with suntan cream and made my way (via the canteen of course for a cup of coffee) and the Olympic flame into the office.

Soon we were all in and ready to start our day. We carried out our checks, and just to remind all you readers, that the checks were still the full walk around, outside tribunes, inside press areas, the timing control and monitoring areas and the media suites and rooms. We didn’t often check the production wagons, but that was partially because we couldn’t always get in!

Once we had completed our rounds (changing any machines that needed fixing, easier to leave a good one up there and repair them back in the office) we arrived back in the office ready for our next tasks.
Today would be like yesterday, we needed teams on the Tribunes, and as I was in the lower tribune yesterday I volunteered for the upper tribune today. I stowed my camera discretely in my pocket as we made our ways out of the office.
There were two types of Gamesmakers in our little team. IT technician team members and Service Desk team members. As IT Technician team members our roles were to go out and about and fix things. The Service Desk team members were meant to sit in the IT office and man the phones inputting faults onto the system. They had been trained on how to use the system, and had usernames and passwords which the IT Technician team members did not.
In essence this really meant that only us IT Technician team members should go outside and leave the office. However it was pretty evident that the IT management felt that this was unfair (which we all agreed with), so each day most of the service desk team members would come out too, leaving one behind to work on the systems in the office. Unfortunately as we didn’t have usernames or passwords we couldn’t really help, and I felt a bit guilty about that, but unfortunately there wasn’t really anything we could do.

Anyway we made our way to our areas for the morning, 3 of us in the upper tribunes, and 4 in the lower tribunes. I picked up some coffees for the team and we monitored the systems, responding when faults came in, and of course watched the athletics.
The views from the upper tribunes were fantastic. In the lower tribunes we were definitely closer to the action, but from up here you could have a different view of the whole arena, making it easier to see the multitude of events that were going on. We of course also had the media information systems, which meant that we were totally up to date with all the results too.

As we were relatively hidden (the spectators were concentrating on the athletics in the arena) I snuck my camera out of my pocket and started taking some pics. Naturally some were rubbish, but now I was definitely in the mood for capturing as much as I could, while I could. Never in a million years did I even hope that we would be this close to the action, so I took the opportunity whilst I was still there!

Our view from our desks in the upper tribunes

Our view from our desks in the upper tribunes

I mentioned before that Olympic fever had really taken hold, and that the 80k capacity crowd even at 10am were full of enthusiasm for everything they saw, every event and every athlete. This was really evident today, and really touching. I can’t remember the event (might have been the 800 metres or 1500 metres), but it was a qualifier, and most of the field had finished the race, leaving one, a good lap behind all the others.
The crowd did not switch off, and cheered the individual every step of the way, and I mean every step. Towards the end of their race the noise escalated to a wall of sound, you must have been able to hear this miles away, until the individual crossed the line, and now the crowd went totally wild. If you had your eyes closed for this race you would have believed that the person who just crossed the line had won it.
And that touched me, the empathy from the crowd, this individual had tried their hardest on a world stage, and been quite rightly rewarded for their efforts which a cheer that could be heard across London (I reckon).

To be continued.

An apology first though, not finished day 10 yet, so here goes.

We left the last post, where the morning crew were handing over the batten of work/volunteering to the evening shift.
But I have missed out a huge chunk, partly because I want to make these relatively easy to read! It’s not because I forgot honest.

Remember how earlier on Monday I mentioned that Usain was a nice person, who deserved all the adulation and praise that he gets, because he works hard for it, and remember how I said we would see it again? Well.

Today Phillips Idowu was competing in the triple jump. The crowd were amazing, all 80k behind him every step of the way, but today on this international stage he just couldn’t do it. We will probably never know why, but it was heartbreaking for us, and for all the spectators in the stadium and I am sure around the world.
He held his head up as he left the arena, and the crowd respected that, we all did.
And it must have taken some courage to come out again and perform the round of TV and media interviews, that are obviously so much fun when you are winning, but must be hard when it’s just not your day.

Usain speaking to Phillips

Usain speaking to Phillips

And this bit changed my day.
Hardly anyone will have seen this, i’m sure most spectators were watching the events, and some were just not close enough, but Phillips received a visitor whilst he was being interviewed by a non-uk TV crew. Usain Bolt had just finished a qualifying race (winning of course) and he started the TV interview session. Whilst he was being interviewed by the BBC, he must have noticed that Phillips was just up the way being interviewed by another crew. As soon as he finished the interview with the BBC, he made his way, leaping over the barriers, around the other members of the press and media who were there, and went straight up to Phillips, who must still have been in bits. Usain took some time to speak to Phillips before giving him a big hug and then talking some more. Probably no more than 3 or 4 minutes, but the fact was, he took the time to speak and console another athlete who was having a terrible day. And that struck me, for all his detractors, his big “I AM” persona on the track/stage and his obvious ability Usain Bolt is actually a really nice person as well as a hard working athlete.

I also forgot to add this bit too.
I mentioned earlier there were only 4 days left before my time as a Gamesmaker would end. Now being a bloke (a top bloke I might add) but still a bloke, I am pretty practical and I employ a just in time system for any task or activity. It works, well most of the time 😉

Anyway, it suddenly dawned on me that here I was enjoying one of the best times of my life and almost completely forgetting that I should really purchase some gifts and Olympics stuff for my Niece and Nephew and the rest of the family and that I had better do it a bit sharpish too! A fellow Gamesmaker thought it would be a good idea too, so we decided to take a detour and make our way to the huge megastore in the park.

The day had warmed up from the chill of the morning, and was gorgeous and warm as we made our way through the crowds in the park towards the megastore. This place was huge, basically a huge warehouse, and we were like the other thousands of people who wanted to visit. Our uniforms and passcards had no power here (not that we tried) and we didn’t mind because it was nice to queue with the spectators and visitors. We had quite a chat too, they were all interested in what we were doing, and we could share information about the stadium and the park. There were many who would be in the stadium this evening, so we took great delight in letting them know just how good it would be in there.
And the queue didn’t take too long. We made a point of chatting with our fellow Gamesmakers both in the queue and those managing the queue, again many of them wouldn’t see any events or the inside of a single venue, but they were still smiling and enjoying their experience.

And soon we were inside, crikey this place was huge and full, hundreds of people in here, but the shelves were well stacked, and we made our way further into this cavern of Olympics stuff.
We had a sort of idea what we wanted, but it was nice to look around and browse a bit too. Being honest, we couldn’t move that quickly anyway, there were just too many people here.

Inside the London 2012 Megastore

Inside the London 2012 Megastore

The London 2012 Megastore, bit large isn't it.

The London 2012 Megastore, bit large isn’t it.

There was plenty of things to buy, from badges to clothing to tea towels to pens to well almost anything you would want branded with an Olympics 2012 logo. I found a few bits and pieces for my Nice and Nephew, and a nice polo shirt for me. Well I wanted a souvenir to remember too, after all as we can see already my memory is starting to fade!
We made our way to the cash tills, another big queue here, but everyone was in good spirits, and there were plenty of cash tills, so we didn’t have to wait long.

And soon we were out, clutching our bags of goods, back out in the heat and the sunshine of the early evening. We had big grins on our faces, even if our wallets were lighter. We didn’t mind, after all, when would we be here again.

Well for me it would be sooner rather than later, but i’ll leave that for another day!

And we made our way out of the park on our way home. I would be back tomorrow, already eager to find out what the day would have in store for me.

And this is important, the number of shifts I had left was diminishing, only 4 more. This was not a good feeling as I waited at the station for my early morning train.

But that didn’t stop me from looking forwards to today. It had been 24 hours since my last shift, where I watched the 100 metres final, and although today would be an early morning shift, I was eager to find out what the day had in store for us.

This morning was cool, well cold if I am honest, and I had to wear my Olympic jacket at the station whilst I waited for my train to arrive. Still more Gamesmakers and tourists on the trains and tubes, and even more tourists would follow us off the tube at our stop, rather than listen to the announcements.

Olympic fever had taken over London and the country, and everyone was happy when I arrived at the Olympic park. Lots of megaphones, huge pink hands, and happy smiling faces. I tipped what was left of my water down a storm drain and made my way through the security checkpoint into the park.
Again this morning the park was heaving with spectators and Gamesmakers, and it was buzzing. Lots of excitement today. This was a key point, the London 2012 Olympics had instilled a very real sense of fun, togetherness and competition into the UK, everybody wanted to be a part of it, each individual was important, and this was something I would see again today.

I proceeded without hassle through the Gamesmaker check in, again, virtually empty, oh and for those of you wondering, still no sign of my hat! As I pointed out earlier, it was a chilly morning today, so no need for sun tan lotion as I picked up my booty. The rice crispy cakes were a tasty breakfast snack but they would let us only have one each, which i suppose was a good thing really!
I picked up my cup of coffee, noting that more Gamesmakers were in the canteen this morning, and made my way past the flame to our office. I say this because it was nice to view the flame, listening to it burn in the stillness of the early morning, long before many others would turn up.
I had heard stories from colleagues and friends of early shift starting times, but yet each morning when I arrived there would only be handfuls there. Not sure where the rest were each day, perhaps they were hiding?

I walked into the office with a cheery good morning to all, and had a quick look around for my hat. Still no sign, I was resigned to not seeing it again which was a shame, but I would cope, I think.

Another quick start, I finished my coffee and by 8am we were performing our rounds. The spectators were beginning to filter into the arena, and there were Gamesmakers manning the checkpoints, making sure we had all the correct levels of passcard. Which was fine, a good thing, but did mean that on occasion the routes we were taking would be off-limits. Particularly the athletes areas, for which we required an upgrade pass. This was not a problem, we had access to the upgrade passes when we needed them. However sometimes we would forget especially when we weren’t visiting those areas, but merely passing through, which often meant a longer walk around the area, or a trudge back to the IT office to pick up and upgrade pass.
And this was another important thing. These Gamesmakers were possibly some of the unluckiest of the lot. They were part of the Olympic stadium team but were tasked with manning checkpoints, and not the ones outside with the public, or even the ones at the entrances to the park or the stadium. These Gamesmakers manned internal checkpoints, the ones used to restrict passage to the athletes areas, or the media and press areas, and even sometimes the lifts. And they sat there, only 10 metres away from the action, they could hear it, but couldn’t see it, even on TV screens. These Gamesmakers were doing what I joked I would be doing, except instead of watching lights on a router or server, they were checking the passes of individuals passing through, not quite in a basement, but not outside either.
So I made sure that I and my fellow Gamesmakers and colleagues always spoke to them, always took time for a chat and to recognise what they were doing. They didn’t seem to mind doing their roles, and I hope that they felt a little more appreciated when we took the time to recognise them.

We completed our rounds, everything was ok this morning, and made our way back to the IT office.
We had been warned about the long periods of time we would spend cooped up in our IT office, told to bring books and alternative things to do, watching the TVs and the live streams in the IT office would be as much as we would see of the events.

But this was no longer correct, things had changed!
As you know so far we had been able to watch some of the events on Sunday night, and I got to watch the final of the 100 metres final. So would it be the same today we wondered? Would we be split up into groups to man our IT desks on the tribunes, next to the press and media, for parts of the day?


Today would change again. Today we would be split up into groups, one group responsible for the upper tribunes, and one group responsible for the lower tribunes. And what about our shifts? We didn’t have any, we would be out there for the entire time, from the first event to the last event of the morning.
I pinched myself again, to make sure I was awake. Not only did we have practically the free run of the Olympic Stadium, but today, I would be sitting outside, watching the events (and waiting for any faults of course) in some of the best seats in the stadium. This was going to be a good day.

I picked up a slot in the lower tribunes this morning, and we made our way up there. It was cool out there in the stadium and I was pleased I had my jacket.
Relatively quiet on the faulting front, we sat watching the events and checking the systems, we could interrogate the media information system from here, finding out details about the athletes, their previous best times and more. We also had a range of live feeds from the TV cameras that we could watch. We were having a great time.
But it was cold, and although we were in our Gammesmaker jackets, we were still chilly. Luckily though, as we were in the press and media areas, we also had access to the complimentary beverages, which included free tea and coffee, and that was welcome this morning, as I nipped off to make a few cups, bringing them back for the rest of the team. Delicious and warm, we were lucky Gamesmakers.

We saw some fantastic events during the day, but soon enough our time would come to an end. We couldn’t believe it, all of a sudden it was after 12 and the events finished. But we didn’t of course, after a quick cursory check for any faults in the area, we were back down to the IT office before being dispatched for lunch.
On return from lunch we were back up and around the stadium, checking machines and replenishing stocks of spare screens and PCs to our squirrel stores near to the lower and upper tribune areas, ready in case we needed them in a rush.
We also spent some time in the stores too, not been there for a few days, but this afternoon we took some time tidying it all up again, starting to get ready for when it would be needed again for removal of the equipment. Another reminder that we only had a few days left to go.

And then our shift came to an end, and we handed over the baton to the evening crew. If they too were going to sit outside they were in for a treat tonight, some fantastic events were scheduled, lucky lot!