London 2012 Olympic Story
We were extremely proud to have been selected to provide sports massage for athletes and teams at the London 2012.
Karen initially working at holding camps with the Afghan and British Virgin Island teams prior to the games. During the Olympics, Karen was at Wembley (and the training centre) working specifically with Badminton Judo and Wrestling. For the Paralympics, Karen was poolside at the Aquatic centre, as part of the FOP (Field of Play) team amongst other tasks in the Olympic Park.
Prior to the Games, Nick was part of the selection team interviewing potential and candidates to volunteer for sports massage as part of the medical services team. During the Olympics, Nick was one of only four Lead Practitioners working at the Polyclinic at the Athletes Village at the Olympic Park during the games.
Clearly working in the property and iT industry for in excess of twenty years I reached the pinnacle of my career in many ways. I would have to say though it all falls short of being the highlight of my little middle aged life. That honor falls to being picked to volunteer at this year’s London Olympics.
When the London Olympics was awarded on the 6th July 2005, I watched live from my desk sitting at my property company in Chiswick. My first thought was I HAVE to be involved in this in some small way. Coincidently my wife Karen was looking for opportunities to return to employment with both of children growing up and having given it some thought she decided that Sports Massage might be a career she wanted to follow. With this in mind I went with her to foundation weekend at NLSSM to see what it was like and pick up some tips. It was here that I thought, "I have found a way to get involved".
Seven years later, two diplomas and various other qualifications, a fully equipped treatment room at home, working part time for the English Institute of sport and a director of the Sports Massage Association I found myself being invited to be one of only four lead sports massage practitioners working exclusively for athletes and teams in the athletes village at London 2012!
As a volunteer I had worked with LOCOG, the organising committee interviewing potential candidates for the last 18 months. Various training and site visits and then finally less than a week to go! Through a volunteers lottery I managed to get tickets to the rehearsal for the opening ceremony. This I think finally brought home the enormity of what I had achieved and the fact that I was about to be part of something really special. When the "Olympic Rings" converged in the industrial revolution scene, I had to hold back the emotion, as I don't think I have ever been so proud of what I personally and we as a nation had accomplished.
My first day coincided with the first competitive day and I walked into the polyclinic in the athlete’s village like a kid on his first day at senior school. There were whole teams of people that had been there for weeks and seemed to be flying round all over the place and in a very confident manner. I did not feel like that this and with the responsibility of running a team of 25 therapists I suddenly doubted my abilities!
Nick's Olympic Story
Olympians from 204 countries of the world, representing 26 odd different sports; medal winners and those just pleased to be there all visited our clinic and without exception all grateful for the attention and warm smiles they received. Amongst them not one prima donna, in fact many came back with their gold silver or bronze medals to show us and have pictures taken with whoever had helped them through. In one instance we had a wrestler who had a bit of melt down during a treatment refusing to leave the treatment table and upsetting a few people. However in the true spirit of the Olympics he was back with an interrupter a couple of days later, explaining that that he was just about to leave the country but was unwilling to go without coming back to apologise to those he was rude to and he was emphatic with disgust at how he acted. As it turned out, he was competing a few hours later, adrenaline and nerves heightened, he went on to win gold! What a true gent.
Well, two weeks later; in excess of three thousand very grateful athletes and teams seen, I and my team together with every other therapist had received the highest praise not only from the recipients of treatments but from the IOC directly who told us that we had provided an outstanding service not seen at any other games. I received personal commendation for my contribution and leadership skills from the practice manager, which meant so very much.
All in all, I am now bereft that it is over and feel a sense of emptiness. So many fantastic people! Being a Londoner, I have seen a side to our capital not ever seen in my previous 45 years. Londoners smiling and happy. Who would have thought!!!
This experience will live with me forever.
The Olympics started for me back in 2007, shortly after I qualified, when it was rumoured that sports massage therapy would be part of the medical services for London 2012 for the first time ever. That’s when it became my goal to become part of the Olympic experience.
After a rather exasperating time with many mishaps during the registration and interview process, I was eventually allocated my shift and venue. Before the official start of the Games, I initially worked at holding camps at the University of Hertfordshire with the Afghan and British Virgin Island teams.
Then competition time arrived, I worked primarily at Wembley Arena for the badminton competitions and shifts too at the Redbridge training centre, working with Badminton, Judo and wrestling.
The Olympics were great but at the Paralympics, I was very excited to be working in the Olympic Park. Like everyone else, this is where we all wanted to be. As well as being poolside at the Aquatic centre where I was part of the FOP (Field of Play) team, I also worked at Eton Manor where there were the training pools.
Karen's Olympic Story
On my first morning, I met most of the GB squad and even shook Ellie Simmons hand and I felt very privileged. This is when I really felt part of something incredibly special. During my time here I massaged swimmers from every part of the world. I have been asked if language and disability ever proved to be an issue but it just wasn't! These people were genuinely inspirational and working with them so closely made me appreciate even more their commitment and sacrifices. Competing without disabilities is an achievement but so many of these athletes over come on a daily basis problems and limitations which would stop lots of us even getting out of bed!
I am very proud to have been part of this wonderful summer. London 2012 will always be special to me.