When BIR Production Co-ordinator and sports-mad Petra Abbam was accepted as an Olympic Gamesmaker it was the beginning of a dream come true...
Ever since I can remember, the Olympics and Paralympics have been a huge part of my life. Every four years I take over two weeks off in the summer so I can spend my days glued to the television, watching every minute of sporting action I can. So, imagine my excitement when London won the bid for the 2012 Games. The first minute I could, I signed up to be a volunteer and spent the next few years filling out applications, attending interviews and hoping, hoping, hoping. Then my dream came true and I was chosen to be a member of the transport bus team in the Paralympic village. Celebrations ensued.
On 22 August I entered the village in my Gamesmaker’s uniform with little idea of what to expect from the next three weeks. I had been to the village before for training, but then it had been empty and pristine, but now on this first day of the athletes’ arrivals, I could see a few flags fluttering from balconies and athletes and officials milling around. It had started.
I spent my days in the athletes’ mall (the bus station), and I was part of a large team that dealt with all the buses leaving the village to go to training and competition venues. This meant that every single athlete went past us at least once. I helped to load passengers onto the buses, got athelete’s equipment delivered to the venues, made sure people knew where they were going, and checked accreditation. It was fun, irritating, stressful, hectic, hot, cold, rainy, all in the space of a day. I loved it!
It was also embarrassing, as I found out when I was asked to help a new driver learn the route to Eton Manor, the training venue, which I had been shown earlier that day. It was all of three minutes away, but we finally arrived back over two hours later to growing panic from my team leader. Yes, apparently my sense of direction was even more pathetic than I thought. Of course, no one ever let me forget it and even volunteers I had never spoken to knew me as ‘the Eton Manor two-hour one’.
I got to meet loads of athletes and even got to meet Boris Johnson who turned up at the Athletes Village for the Welcome Ceremony. By the end of the Games, I was exhausted and slightly relieved it was over, but I’ll never forget the experiences I had, the friends I made and the stories I heard, and I am determined to be part of the team again at Rio 2016.
Photos: ABOVE: Petra with Abdi Thomas (right) from the men's wheelchair basketball team and Sinclair Tomas (left) his coach
RIGHT: Petra with Boris Johnson, Mayor of London