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"Our man at the Games" - The day I met a King.
11:01am Wednesday 1st August 2012 in Sport
Tuesday 31st July
It was the early shift - up at 5.30am and at the Olympic Park for 7.45am - I am still walking from West Ham station - so keeping up my daily walk- but it was a grey drizzly morning damp and chilly. Yet there were many people about - also colleague volunteers already on duty cheerfully directing spectators with the foam pink finger. I feel for this crew, as it’s an essential task but one that is completely at the mercy of the weather hence trying to stay up-beat must be hard. But they do so - asking passers by what they are going to see, where they are from and just the plain "Welcome to London 2012" one volunteer adding "here in The East End of London - the centre of the world" - real pride!
On checking-in, we all got our next free gift a "McDonalds -Gamesmaker pin" it’s nice and will be something I can show my granddaughter when she is old enough to find this sort of thing interesting. Talking about pins - on my way to work I pass a huge "Olympic Pins" shop - also outside there are several people with large folders full of pins - I understand there is a vast international trade in these objects as pins have been designed for most countries and sports. Later in the day I noticed a queue several hundred strong waiting to go in - so there is obviously huge interest and us human beings all over the world are natural collectors. One colleague, over a cup of tea, was already thinking aloud about what his sparkling new badge would fetch on e-bay - to the loud "tut-tuts" of those around him.
Inside one of the "wet arenas" was a really exciting match between two very well matched sides - not Team GB I hasten to add. It was fast moving the score oscillating constantly between the two sides. There were over five thousand people in the venue all engaged screaming support for their team. The GB supporters were being carried along by the very lively atmosphere so everyone was fully captivated by the spectacle. There was one minute to go the two sides were neck and neck a powerful shot at goal seconds from the end of the match was declined by the referee – the recorded TV coverage did show that the ball had in fact slipped into the corner of the goal – had it been allowed both these teams would have drawn. To a man, woman and child the arena stood up the noise was enormous with the coach and players surrounding the referee one pleading with his hands together for a re-think – there was much sympathy for the protesting team – but one hard-bitten journalist walked past me saying that the “refs decision was final” – so that was that. To witness the passion was wonderful to experience.
Seb Coe visited the venue during one of the matches – he passed me four or so feet away – he was surrounded by his officials but he made time to sign the odd autograph chatting to public, volunteers and athletes – this was nice as I am sure he has much to do – this was really appreciated by all. Later I was on transport duty out in the rain when a “people carrier” with the nation’s flag pulled up at the side of the road – my colleague was the first there with umbrella poised - out came a very distinguished chap with a limp along with his wife and a few others. He had all the necessary accreditation – my colleague asked me to assist as on the name badge was “H M C..........” – I recognised the name and as we escorted him into the venue we had a chat. He told me he had been at the equestrian event with the mother of one of the GB squad where GB got silver – he thought the park was “beautiful” – he asked me where I had come from – I replying “north of Winchester” to which he responded “lovely cathedral” – we then talked very briefly about the “ancient capital of England” – I suggested he might want to have a coffee before going in to watch the game to which his wife quickly agreed. It’s worth saying that his country had a referendum on whether to return to a monarchy or have a president – they choose the latter. But by chance we had visited the country last year where he and his family are still very well regarded.
On that note it was the end of my shift so we were off to the de-brief and the long walk back to the underground. The “javelin” over ground train from Kings Cross was causing some problems as was the Central Line but there were thousands of people on the site with cheers wafting across in the breeze.
Have a day off today – 1st August – hence the longer piece - done after having a good night’s sleep. More tomorrow but it may be the day after as it’s a late evening shift.
Yinnon Ezra MBE
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