“And with that we had done our job.”
As our Legacy Volunteers return from their life changing experiences in Rio 2016, we take a look back at some of their highlights from the Paralympics.
“My role at the Paralympics was as a caller in the statistics and technology team at the Wheelchair Tennis.
I was pleased to be invited to British House in the morning before my afternoon flight home. It was on the third floor of one of the numerous shopping malls in Barra, with a nice view of the Paralympic Park. In between social media obligations, Archery Silver medallists John Stubbs MBE and Jodie Grinham were happy to chat to me and recommended the chocolate cake.
Lovely food and drink laid on, my first “real” beer (wheat-based ingredients, not corn syrup) for over two months. Perhaps is was the dehydration from carrying my luggage in the sunshine, but the prospect of getting a flight home in a couple of hours, the enormity of what I had done in ten weeks and all the new friends I would be leaving just hit me – so when Bowie started playing on the speaker I choked up and had a little cry in the corner.
“I choked up and had a little cry in the corner.”
“Up to this point the transport dream team had been four to five people covering about fifteen hours of assisting anyone from a bus to competition, training or ceremonies – the closing one is coming too soon ;-(. However latterly I had been on my own for long periods of time, so I was feeling exhausted and not at all hero like.
In between welcoming, guiding and smiling, I have met several of the Paralympic GB team and as competition was getting to the end, I chatted to them as they were in more relaxed mood. The hero list of course goes beyond the British Isles and the constant interaction with 4,000+ athletes, coaches and team bosses would be too many to mention.
The very unique position of being in the village is humbling, exciting and more inspiring than our collective realise, I’m sure.
Sue, left, and Lisa at British House
As with the opening ceremony, we needed to get everyone to the celebrations of the closing ceremony. This time Great Britain came to my bus and as the only Brit on duty this last night, I waved my flag and joined the rest of the volunteers who clapped, high-fived and congratulated all those who came past.
And with that we had done our job. It was time to enjoy the hospitality of British House Rio and have the strongest Caipirinha known to man.”
Sue is volunteering at the Paralympics in Rio working on the Help Desk at the Main Press Centre; a very different role from the one she had in London as a driver of a wheelchair accessible vehicle, ferrying people between venues, the athlete’s village and the airport.
“I have volunteered ever since I can remember in small ways, recently at bigger events and find getting involved gets easier the more you do. My role at the press help desk meant I would assist the journalists with their press packs and help them to get online to access all the information they would need to file their reports.
Sue, second from right, with fellow volunteers
A slightly more unusual part of the role was to “do the rounds” of the shops in the press building to take note of customer numbers and sales etc. Apparently it is an experiment this year to see if a Press Village is a good idea for future games. My role gave me ample opportunities to explore Rio and take in some of the inspiring sport.
As Join In Legacy Volunteers from London 2012, we had been invited to an IPC reception. So dressed in our bright green legacy volunteer T-shirts, fellow volunteer Lisa and I set off. We were welcomed in, offered drinks and canapes, treated to some samba dancing, bumped into Josh Widdicombe and Alex Brooker, and also met up with Olivia, another volunteer who had been involved with Join In.
We received gifts from one of the Japanese delegation and a Tokyo 2020 pin – always nice to get pins.
Just as we decided to leave, we were approached by someone asking about the T-shirt and the legacy volunteer thing, so we spent a while explaining how we had set about linking volunteers who wanted to help with sports clubs who needed their help.
He, like many others was surprised to learn that all the volunteers paid for their own flights and accommodation. I think a common misconception of volunteering at big events is that things are paid for. The event came to an end around 10pm so we headed back to the apartment, mulling over a very British evening.