Being so close to the world’s greatest sporting event seems so surreal yet exciting at the same time absolutely terrifying to be here alone. I was fortunate enough to be one of the 70,000 Games Maker volunteers to be successfully chosen out of the 200, 000 applicants – and accepting the role is one of the best decisions I’ve made so far.
What I do
My LOCOG accreditation reads Event Services (EVS) Team Member in ExCeL. There are several arenas in ExCeL, divided into North Arena 1 (Table Tennis), North Arena 2 (Judo & Wrestling), South Arena 1 (Fencing & Taekwondo), South Arena 2 (Boxing) and South Arena 3 (Weightlifting). As an Event Services member, I am one of the many front faces of the games in London 2012.
As an Event Services member, there are a variety of duties assigned to us. First, we offered the ‘meet and greet’ welcome spectators to the stadium before the security checkpoint. When they enter the boulevard, we gave them directions to different arenas (or to the toilet and cashpoint). Before a spectator enters the arena, an EVS member will scan the tickets at the ticketing area. It will open 2 hours before the event starts. They will then enter a spectator zone specific to the arena, where we are in charge of giving any information and making small talks with the spectators.
An hour before the event commenced, the spectators will be allowed to enter the seating zone. Here, we were in charge of showing people to their respective seats. We also made sure that the spectators do not block the views of other spectators with large flags. At the back of house, where the athletes prepare for their few minutes of fame and pride, we check accreditation to the athlete zones and media room. For volunteers with higher level of accreditation (which I do not have *cries*), they could enter the warm-up area. Finally, at the end of each event, spectators will be directed to the only two exit points in the arena: Prince Regent & Pontoon Dock. There are also EVS members to direct the spectators to the proper DLR stations.
If you thought that I am in the cleaning department for London 2012, let me tell you: you’re not the only one. And now you know, I’m not.
Before the Event
I applied for the volunteering spot on the spur of the moment, so by the time I received the face-to-face interview, I’ve already forgotten all about it. My interview went a lot smoother than most others I know. It was just a formality, in my opinion, like a casual chat in a coffee shop. Turned out, the interviewer knew where Miri is, which is very unusual for Caucasian. We side tracked for a while before going on to the actual interview. There were usual questions, nothing complicated except “What is your greatest achievement so far?” I must have babbled some random thing in hope to impress (and I guess I did?), because… how could I have a greatest achievement when I am just 20.
I was officially selected in October 2011. In November 2011, the uniforms came out. We were given two sets of polo tee and tracksuits, along with other complimentary items: jumper, umbrella, watch, water bottle, bag, cap and even socks! The polo tee was so cheery, and is made up of two shades of my favourite colours. Although it is slightly shameful to admit, it is the main incentive to keep me interested in volunteering. Let’s be honest, everyone needs incentive; a smile, a pat on the back, and in this case FREE STUFFS!
The pre-requirement is an orientation session and a couple of training events. When all was completed in June 2012, we went to collect our Games Maker uniform and accreditation at UDAC (Uniform Distribution and Accreditation Centre) – just a month before the event. I was so thrilled to get the Volunteer Oyster Card, which gained me unlimited free access for all public transportation in London.
And finally, in July 2012, here I am.
Opening Ceremony (27 July 2012)
My mission of the day: To collect my Volunteer Oyster Card from UDAC. This card allowed me unlimited free access for all public transportation in London, up to Zone 6. I didn’t want to look completely lost on my first shift the following day, as I missed my Venue Specific Training several days ago.This was my first and only time entering ExCeL through the spectator route. I had to go through a security checkpoint, which was almost as strict as that in the airport. We weren’t allowed to bring liquid more than 100ml into the venue, except for sunscreen.
The place was still being set up. There weren’t many people; only those with accreditation could enter. For all arenas, the spectator seats were empty. Peaceful. Serene. At NA1 (Table Tennis), there were players practising for their big game tomorrow. I went from one arena to another, and when I entered the NA2 (Judo), I met another two volunteers. They were taking pictures. I didn’t know we are allowed to. Somehow we ended up talking, and they noticed my new MU jersey. Finally, someone who thinks that the new design doesn’t look like a tablecloth!
That night, I watched the opening ceremony live, along with the entire world. The other Games Maker I lived with won a ticket to the dress rehearsal to the opening ceremony, so she was able to commentate on the whole ceremony – right until the country parade where I fell asleep right somewhere in the letter M. I vaguely remembered what the opening ceremony was about: the Great Britain history the music history, and some fable tales.
It is impossible to summarise the entire voluntary 2½ weeks in just a paragraph of so. The next few posts that follow will be bits and pieces of things I remember. To see firsthand the amount of effort and preparation behind and in front of the scenes by the athletes, media, volunteers and organisers, to be able to see some sports live… if I hadn’t said it enough, being part of London 2012 is overwhelming.
Someday, I’m able to look back and say: London 2012. I was there.