This time last year Olympics Games Maker Claire Purnell from North Swindon had just completed two weeks of an amazing journey. She was one of thousands of volunteers who ensured the games was an incredible experience for visitors and a brilliant showcase for Britain. The Swindon College student services manager wrote of her immediate reaction in the October 2012. Here she takes a long look back.
A year on from the London Olympic Games and the euphoria and spirit that brought the nation to an amazing fortnight of success is still so fresh in my mind.
The moments of tension, emotion and insane excitement for me as a games maker within the Olympic Park was special, I loved every minute.
To have witnessed world class performances in the aquatics centre and in the Olympic Stadium was a great joy; we showed Britain’s best face to the world and I was privileged to be part of it.
Highlights for me are still so vivid – from attending the opening ceremony rehearsal, watching the GB welcoming ceremony, meeting over 50 Olympic athletes and spending time with gold, silver and bronze medallists, to running a lap of the Olympic track, and making some gorgeous new friends for life – where to after all of that?
Above: Claire in the aquatics centre where she spent a lot of time during the games as a member of the anti-doping team. Right: Claire and gold medal cyclist Chris, now ‘Sir Chris’ Hoy. Below, at the games with Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwin
To say I hit a little lull afterwards would be a fair comment, though having an insight into new opportunities career-wise was food for thought. Facebook believe it or not has been amazing for keeping in touch with fellow games makers. We had a reunion in London in April when 15 of us did the ‘Park in Progress’ tour which involved a trip up the Orbit once again to get a bird’s eye view of the infrastructure being transported or demolished.
Three iconic landmarks remain, with the Lee Valley Velo Park ready for action at the beginning of 2014 along with the new hockey and tennis centre.
The great wave of Zaha Hadid’s aquatic centre roof has now been revealed. It will reopen to the public in Spring 2014, with its spectator capacity having been reduced from 17,500 to 2,500.
The Olympic Stadium was recently featured in the anniversary games and will be in use for the rugby world cup in 2015 and perhaps be rebuilt for football after that.
The north side of the park near the velodrome is now open and it is free to enter, with a great play area for children. We were lucky enough to be there for the official opening on 27 July. Be advised adults, take a change of clothes for the children as there is wet fun to be had.
What was the athletes village will reopen as ‘E20’ East Village, though now looking void of colour from all the countries’ banners and flags that were draped by the athletes from the balconies.
Inspiring a generation
Locally our school ran a poem competition on Your Hero and my nine year old daughter wrote a poem based on her inspiring Paralympian hero Ellie Simmonds who I tweeted so that she could read it.
For me, the memories and friendships will always be there and, as a competitive swimmer in my youth, I am now being badgered to get back into my cossie to start training for the Masters World Championships in 2016 to be held at the London Aquatics Centre. Watch this space.
Read Claire’s account from October 2012: www.bit.ly/gmclaire
Right, Claire, trying out the Olympic stadium. Below, her daughter’s poem dedicated to Ellie Simmonds