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Our Man at the Games" 6th August - "Is this the best Games yet?"
Monday 6th August.
It was an early one today – so up at 5.30am and on the Olympic Park just before 8.00am. We assemble for the morning briefing of “Gamesmakers” with our two team leaders; we go through the issues like we have been together for years. As they “call the register” everyone is “present and correct” – there have been very few colleagues who have not stuck at it. One or two have gone off with illness but the majority of us, now just over the half way mark, are blearily eyed but still fully “up for it”.
I chat to a few as we walk onto the stand – some had tickets and watched the great “MR Bolt” do his stuff – not leaving the Park till well past midnight. Their wonder at being in the stadium witnessing the great man shave a second off the Olympic record was all they talked about. Although really pleased for them – can’t help feeling just a little twinge of jealousy!
The Park is “heaving” particularly when people assemble to go to one of the venues. There is a really well organised system that steers spectators over one bridge or another with much skill. All this done by colleague “Gamesmakers” – some with loud hailers others sitting on those raised chairs you see Wimbledon umpires use. We have to cross one of these human rivers to find the “workforce canteen” and sometimes it takes quite a time to make the crossing! I have now found another way round which goes under the bridge which I use when I have to make a quick return to work which is very useful but when I have a few minutes I go the other way as I miss the crowd.
Talking about the crowd of endless people who are streaming into the Park day in day out – I have mentioned before the “mood” reflecting on what this means. The crowd are very cheerful – I meet a huge number of them on my way to and from West Ham Station. Stratford is obviously the main gateway but the announcements keep requesting people use this other station for the park. BUT – it’s a good mile away hence it could make people feel grumpy as they walk on the concrete path – temporary toilets have been placed at strategic points on the way which help. But getting back to the crowd – they stop me and ask me to take a photograph; some are family groups, with hundreds on “Team GB” shirts of all shapes strolling along, now and then a “Gamesmaker” will ask an un-suspecting group “which team are you going to support” the answer is different every time – with USA often loudly being proclaimed – but drowned out by a huge “Team GB” – us British have certainly found our voice!
I want to end today’s piece by passing onto to you a conversation I had with an Australian journalist – he has been to five Olympics so I asked him how London rated – his answer was guarded but this is what he said “The one thing you have in London is history particularly the world renowned sites beautiful buildings, parks – it was a stroke of genius using the street scenes as a backdrop for so many of the games. That more than anything else has distinguished these Games from all the others – also as an Australian I hate to say this but the people in London have been really friendly.” I pressed him – is this the best you have been too “Yes”! Can’t really add anything - best I stop here. I am off to see my son, his wife and hopefully granddaughter Rose.
Yinnon Ezra MBE