I recently took my summer holiday. It wasn’t to Ibiza or Turkey but to Stratford, E20! I thought I would share my experience with you:-
Clearly working for dezrez I am at the pinnacle of my career. I would have to say though it falls short of being the highlight of my middle aged life. That honour falls to being picked to volunteer at this year’s London Olympics.
When the London Olympics was awarded on the 6th July 2005, I watched live from my desk sitting at my estate agents office in Chiswick. My first thought was I HAVE to be involved in this in some small way. Coincidently my wife Karen was looking for opportunities to return to employment with both of children growing up and having given it some thought she decided that Sports Massage might be a career she wanted to follow. With this in mind I went with her to foundation weekend to see what it was like and pick up some tips. It was here that I thought “I have found a way to get involved”.
Seven years later, two diplomas and various other qualifications achieved whilst still successfully whilst holding down a full time job, I found myself being invited to be one of only four lead sports massage practitioners working exclusively for athletes and teams in the athletes village at London 2012!
As a volunteer I had worked with LOCOG, the organising committee interviewing potential candidates for the last 18months. Various training and site visits and then finally less than a week to go! Through a volunteers lottery I managed to get tickets to the rehearsal for the opening ceremony. This I think finally brought home the enormity of what I had achieved and the fact that I was about to be part of something really special. When the “Olympic rings” converged in the industrial revolution scene, I had to hold back the emotion as I don’t think I have ever been so proud of what I personally and we as a nation had accomplished.
My first day coincided with the first competitive day and I walked into the poly clinic in the athletes village like a kid on his first day at senior school. There were whole teams of people that had been there for weeks and seemed to be flying round all over the place and in a very confident manner. I did not feel like that this and with the responsibility of running a team of 25 therapists I suddenly doubted my abilities!
Olympians from 204 countries of the world, representing 26 odd different sports; medal winners and those just pleased to be there all visited our clinic and without exception all grateful for the attention and warm smiles they received. Amongst them not one prima donna, in fact a came back with their gold silver or bronze medals to show us and have pictures taken with whoever had helped them through. In one instance we had a wrestler who had a bit of melt down during a treatment refusing to leave the treatment table and upsetting a few people.
However in the true spirit of the Olympics he was back with an interrupter a couple of days later, explaining that that he was just about to leave the country but was unwilling to go without coming back to apologise to those he was rude to and he was emphatic with this disgust at how he acted. As it turned out, he was competing a few hours later, adrenaline and nerves heightened, he went on to win gold! What a true gent.
Well, two weeks later; in excess of three thousand very grateful athletes and teams seen, I and my team together with every other therapist had received the highest praise not only from the recipients of treatments but from the IOC directly who told us that we had provided an outstanding service not seen at any other games. I received personal commendation for my contribution and leadership skills from the practice manager which meant so very much.
All in all, I am now bereft that it is over and feel a sense of emptiness. So many fantastic people! Being a Londoner, I have seen a side to our capital not ever seen in my previous 45 years. Londoners smiling and happy.. Who would have thought!!!
This experience will live with me forever. Roll on Glasgow then Rio….