Ok so I know there are a few more days left at the Olympics, but my involvement is over and I wanted to talk about it. So for the past few weeks I have been a Games Maker, you know one of those many thousand of volunteers in the distinctive purple outfits that spend their time milling around. That was me.
What many people apparently didn’t know is that there were two ways of volunteering, one as a general Games Maker, the other as a specific Games Maker. The difference here is what you are doing, now as a cyclist and triathlete I applied to be a specific Games Maker with a focus of cycling road events. There were actually 6 road cycling events I was volunteering at, spread over 5 days. The road race, the time trial and the triathlon (men’s and women’s for all).
As all the articles in the papers have suggested McDonalds have used their wealth of experience and know-how to attract, train and motivate the Games Makers. Now I dont know about that, I was attracted to the job to do my bit for the Olympics, if anything the involvement of McDonalds put me off – what with having a soul and tastebuds and all.
Never the less we attended multiple days of training, generally in London. Apparently oblivious to the cost we were all incurring to takes days off work and travel down to London to spend another half day watching the same ‘motivational’ video.
I’m not saying the training wasn’t useful, I’m just saying they could have fit it into a single day of meeting your team and learning your job. Some reimbursement for travel costs wouldn’t have gone a miss either.
The actual events were what we were really looking forward to. They were fantastic. Ignoring the 3:30am starts and the bad sandwiches it was really fun. If my previous comments didn’t make it clear, Games Makers volunteered because they love the sport and are passionate about it. So ignoring the crowds, I was part of a team who were so excited about all they events we were helping with. People from all walks of life, brought together to help through a shared passion of the sport. You couldn’t beat it.
For the road race I was stationed in the leafy Surrey suburb village of Pyrford, the time trial I was in Cobham and the triathlon I was on Hyde Park corner, near Wellington Arch.
We were positioned with a large number of stewards, these were the jumped up 14 year olds with a high vis jacket and a wage. As their motivation was the minimum wage they were being paid and not a love of the sport or even the slightest comprehension of what was going on, they were the bane of every ones shifts. Thats not to say individually they were bad people, but as a whole they had been given instructions from on high, and there was no allowable deviation from these instructions.
To give you an example, on our first shift we were dropped off by coach at our location, and stood down about 2 hours after the race had gone through. At which point our coach was sent to get us, but to get to us the coach had to travel down the closed roads of the race. No problem, the end of race car had gone through. Sadly the stewards had been told not to let any vehicles (or bikes / pedestrians) on the course until the road was opened, this included our bus. So after a few hour of waiting we gave up and caught a train home. The bus was still waiting by the time we got back. Thank you stewards.
Either way, we had a fantastic time, the crowds were great, the racing was great and I feel like I did my bit for the Olympics. For the record, during my shifts GB won 2 golds, 1 silver and 2 bronzes, I feel I played my part in that.
We also managed to break into the grandstand to watch the medal ceremony for the mens triathlon, which was a fantastic experience.
Additionally through our volunteering we got to meet a whole load of lovely people, I got to hold an Olympic torch, and witness perhaps the greatest show on earth. Well worth it. So I hope you will forgive me for the lack of bread based posts recently.