"Our Man at the games" "Going to another game...and the medals keep coming" (From Basingstoke Gazette)
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"Our Man at the games" "Going to another game...and the medals keep coming"
8th August – “Going to another game….and the medals keep on coming...”
West Ham station was quiet this morning – it was about 11.00am when I stepped onto the platform walking to the end and up the purple stairs which take you round onto the walkway to the “Greenway Gate”. You may have noticed that there is a lot of purple about – it is the Olympic colour with everything being presented in this interesting shade – I suppose it’s a matter of taste but it sort of works. Everything to the Olympic Park is well signposted in this colour including the many notices everywhere informing you about one thing or another. On one journey I wonder how long after both Games finish that all this will remain in the public realm – I hope it will be for a long time, as it will remind us all about how “we” the “nation” got infected by the fever of “London 2012”. It must be some sort of virus as it has taken over – not in a negative way but slowly without any of us realising it we worry about the athletes their struggle, tears, achievements – not just in the sports we are familiar with but even in those where the complexities are beyond us – what has happened to us – it’s a “happy” illness which even makes us chat to strangers sharing these concerns………enough of this!
On arriving at “workforce check-in” we are given our next present – it’s a silver “Gamesmaker” badge –the discussion in the tea room being proved right again- together with some more chocolate. At the venue we are put through a bit of “team building” designed to ensure we remember each other’s names – it sort of works. The day before we voted for our “best team” player and put down three funny (ironic) things about ourselves and others had to guess who it was – this was not so successful as we have not been together that long with the team changing quite often- but it was fun! The work in the venue goes very smoothly much of the ridged instructions given to us at the outset have evolved into pragmatic common sense practice which is simpler to implement, particularly with a large very diverse workforce. All the shifts are supported by soldiers who, as they put it, are there to show “a presence” – the full uniform does this very well with one spending quite a long time in the tea room making his black shoes gleam.
On the stand things are beginning to build as we are approaching the semi-finals - there is genuine excitement – today it’s the women who join battle. The one match I see between Australia and USA is lively, fast moving generating huge cheers when things go right with gasps of frustration when they don’t. I have pointed this out before, so I won’t repeat myself – the passion expressed particularly by supporters of a particular country are a sight to behold – these are “ordinary” people who during the course of a match are transformed – one minute you chat to them about their journey or other such matters, in the next they would be quite content to do something quite nasty to the opposing team.
I have a last minute ticket for the Republic of Korea Vs Russia women’s semi-final of “handball” – so on completing my shift go with another colleague to the “Copper box” which is the arena for this action. It’s not so much that I am a huge fan or know anything about the game, but, like so many others, it is an opportunity to visit another part of the Olympic Park taking in another lively sport. The venue is large, bright, noisy and full. There is much anticipation from the partisan supporters including the majority who are there to see a good game. The teams come out with battle commencing – its end to end – with much agile throwing, blocking and very physical contact. My attention is drawn to the large rather round red shirted Russian coach who shouts constantly at his team throughout the first half – it is loud indignant screaming which must put off his team rather than inspire them. But he is relentless – R of Korea start with a comfortable lead which Russia chip away at – the scream of the coach booming across the hall – players come on and off as the game progresses – the Russian goalkeeper missed a crafty shot at goal - is promptly taken off – shouted at and sent on again. The match is exciting while the margin closes – the coach is red in the face now – joined by another one on the bench – the two of them ranting hysterically. The referee has had enough, stops the game, digging out a yellow card which he pushes into the face of the offending coach – the whole venue erupts in applause – but he looks round the arena slowly returning a slow hand clap. The game concludes with R of Korea winning by a one goal lead. It was an experience; it was really enjoyable with the antics of the coach an added bit of drama.
Everywhere the success of GB is being discussed – “it can’t be true” – “a mistake”- but we are now just over the Beijing haul – my lovely wife sends me excited texts about GB adding to their total – it really is wonderful news particularly as each is a story of personal or Team achievement. It is now an established theme - winners paying tribute to those nearest to them and the fact that “we could not have done this” without the unseen Team GB crew.
Yinnon Ezra MBE