In the third part of her story of what being an Olympic gamesmaker actually entailed, the author lends us an insight into her daily responsibilities and just how much enjoyment you can gain from wearing a grey bib. You can find parts one and two here.
By the 27th July I was lodging in an extremely small room on the outskirts of London in Hayes. Which in fact was the total opposite side of London to the Excel Centre, the place where I would be working during the games.. It took approximately two hours each way using three modes of transport; I was more than thankful for the travel card LOCOG has provided. I later found that I was commuting for a longer period of time than others who were commuting from outside of London! The travel wasn’t at all tedious though. The uniform attracted a lot of attention and a lot of questions from other commuters. I think this was possibly the first time people made eye contact on the tube let alone full conversations!
My role within the Olympics was as a Photo Team Member. What I gathered from the training was that I was there to assist the press photographers. The role was very vague; I was told that I would learn most of the skills and responsibilities whilst on the job. On the first day, I walked into my allocated venue, the boxing arena. Overwhelmed by the great amount of scaffolding which created the arena, I stood and waited for my other colleagues to arrive. The first person I met was my Team Leader, David. A man with a very recognisable face, yet he insists we have never met. Imagine Nick Knowles from DIY SOS with floppier hair, a radio earpiece in and a blue fisherman style jacket with multiple pockets. (This wasn’t his usual attire; it was in fact a ringside camera vest).
I was told throughout the training that I had been given the best role possible within the Olympics. I soon found out that statement was absolutely correct. David briefed the small team of five on what was expected of our roles. We had to ensure that the photographers working within the boxing arena were well informed of the days sports schedule and be there to assist them if they did require any help. I realised why training was so vague. I was handed a grey bib labelled Photo Team Member. I secretly loved wearing the bib as there were few people who actually wore them, so people would stop me and question my role. I had quite a few times where people would stop me and ask if I was a photographer for the Olympics. You can imagine the temptation to say yes?
The daily briefing was short and informative. David would meet us an hour before the boxing starts and go through the sporting activity, what photographers are expected to arrive, any issues from the night before, allocate a specific photo position to work from and distributed radios. After the short briefing, we would all locate to our photo positions. These were allocated seats within the arena that had exceptional views of the boxing ring. The positions were on each side of the ring, usually in the middle of the highest rows and, on one side, the closest seats to the ring. I would sit there and wait for any photographers to come up and position themselves for the boxing ahead.
Occasionally I would wander around the arena and look out for any photographers coming in. They were easy to spot a mile off, as they wore beige fisherman jackets, lugged around two big cameras and a hefty suitcase full of lenses and accessories. I would greet them with small talk about how their day had been. It was often not the start or the end of the day for the photographers; I gathered that during the Olympics, sleep was not an option for them, working 14 hour days all over London to capture the best of the sporting activities. Some photographers didn’t even understand what I was talking about due to the extensive range of nationalities and languages, however, I did try. As a result of their tight schedule, it was usual for photographers to turn up late to the matches. This is where efficiency was key. With the limited time and language barriers, I had to really quickly make sure that the photographer was informed of the boxing schedule, in the right place and to be able to answer any queries they might have. Once the photographers were settled I was able to just sit there and enjoy watching the boxing. This was only during the first few preliminaries, after that I forgot there was even a match going ahead in front of my eyes…
Image by Andy Miah