It was just over a year ago that I saw an advertisement on the Internet looking for volunteers to work for the recently-concluded London Olympics. The Organising Committee of the London Olympics had aptly coined the phrase ‘Games Makers’ for the volunteer force. Being a sports fanatic, the advertisement caught my eye and I decided to apply online.
When I mentioned this to my friends and family most of them were very sceptical of the idea telling me that volunteering is meant for young people or retired people and not for busy professionals like me struggling to balance work, family and social life!
Nonetheless I still wanted to be part of the greatest sporting event in the world and went ahead with my application. After being interviewed and obtaining security clearance, I was offered the role as a National Olympic Committee (NOC) Games Maker.
After offering me the position, I was invited for a general orientation programme held at Wembley Arena. During the course of the training, despite my obvious choice being India, I was told that I have been assigned the Brunei Darussalam NOC and was put in touch with the Chef de Mission from Brunei- Muhd Zamri Zamdani.
The Opening Ceremony of the Olympics was stunning and a wonderful experience which enthralled Britain and the world. How one Madhura Nagendra wearing a bright red top managed to join our athletes during the march past still remains a mystery to all!
My accreditation allowed me access not only to the Olympic Village but also to the Olympic Park. I was lucky to be near the finishing line when Usain Bolt ran the 100 m finals. I was also lucky to watch Saina Nehwal and Jwala Gutta in action during the early rounds of the badminton tournament. Saina has done us all proud by becoming the first badminton player to win an Olympic medal for India.
Unfortunately for our first female Olympian boxer Mary Kom, the opponent in the semi-finals was the very popular baby-faced Nicola Adams of Great Britain. But Mary has done the nation proud by winning the bronze medal and so have Sushil Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt in wrestling by winning silver and bronze in their events.
The younger brother of the Sultan of Brunei Prince Sufri Bolkiah is the President of the Brunei National Olympic Council and an ardent fan of shooting. I was fortunate to accompany him to the Royal Artillery Barracks, where Abhinav Bindra and Gagan Narang were in action. Gagan and Vijay Kumar showed their mettle and restored some pride back to India by winning silver and bronze.
London 2012 was the first Olympics where all participating countries, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Brunei, were sending female athletes. As the first female Olympian from Brunei, 18-year-old Maziah became an instant hit with the world’s media. A few hours before the closing ceremony on Sunday, I also bumped into P T Usha and Tintu Luka.
After two weeks of world-class sporting action and the world’s heart beating at London, the curtain finally fell on the London Olympics on August 12. The stadium was virtually transformed into a jukebox as some of Britain’s biggest pop stars and singers performed music in an engrossing after show party. Many of the erstwhile quiet Indian athletes also joined the dancing when Bhangra was being performed.
The flag was passed in the end from the London Mayor to the Mayor of Rio de Janeiro where the 2016 Olympics will be held.
The motto of the London Games is ‘Inspire a Generation’. It will inspire future generations and they then aim to become Faster, Stronger and Higher than the previous generation... CITIUS, ALTIUS, FORTIUS!