One of the overriding sentiments we are getting from the amazing Runners who are volunteering at the World Para Athletics Championships is that they are part of a team.
Someone who knows all about teamwork is Mandeep Chahal from Hounslow. After his first experience of volunteering, helping a club for disabled children take their students swimming, Mandeep looked for other ways to volunteer. He took advantage of opportunities offered by his employer, BT where he works in IT in the HR department. He joined the BT volunteering team where he participated in community and sporting events. He found he enjoyed it so much, he now calls himself a “serial volunteer.”
“I then got involved in the BT volunteering team where I participated in community and sporting events. Through BT I applied to be a Games Maker at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. I volunteer in many different capacities. I have helped at major sporting events, at local athletics clubs as a qualified technical official, non-sporting organisations like the National Trust and at Team London to help visitors to London”.
For the World Para Athletics and the IAAF championships Mandeep has an exciting role as part of the Sport Competition Team.
“My main roles will be to look after the athletes as they go to complete. This may be holding the banner and leading them out, escorting them to the mixed zone at the end of the competition, escorting them if they need to speak to their coaches or if they want to go on a comfort break. We cater for their needs and work closely with the technical officials for that event. As such I will be based track-side to lead them out or on the field of play if we are looking after their needs during the competition”.
Volunteers can find themselves spending a lot of time on their feet. Mandeep has added another dimension to his experience by wearing a pedometer to count his steps. So far the most steps he has taken in one day is 25,000 which shows that volunteering can also keep you fit as well as being good for your wellbeing.
His previous athletics experience enabled him to fill a gap on the training field.
“There was a call for any volunteer with technical official experience. As I am a level 2 I put my hand up. They wanted an extra official to supervise the training area on the North lawn. It was a long walk, as I didn’t know there was a shuttle bus. Once there I met my contact who asked if I could look after the shot put area. It was nice to be among the athletes making sure they are able to train in a friendly and safe environment with their needs met.
Ritchie Parrott knows all about creating team spirit in his group of enthusiastic Spectator Services Runners! He starts every day with a team photo to get the smiles and the foam fingers into action.
“My shift always starts with meeting the Spectator Services Team at Workforce Check-in. As a team leader we are issued with a deployment card telling us which location we’ll be in. After a quick (and usually hilarious) briefing letting us know how many spectators we’re expecting that session and who is competing, etc we pick up our radios and info packs. We’re then ready to assemble our teams of eager volunteers and head off to our location. I always like to start the shift with the obligatory team photo which I think sets us up nicely for the fun times ahead. Then as the gates open we’re ready with our foam fingers, big smiles and photo frames to make sure everyone has an amazing time as they enter the stadium”.
Jo Vince had an interesting start to her volunteer experience as a Runner. As part of her role as a Chaperone with the “Clean Athletics” Team, Jo is tasked with taking blood and urine samples from athletes. Lots of this will be done post competition, but for some, they will be requested to provide samples pre-competition as part of the random drug testing programme. Jo told us how one of her pre-competition tests hadn’t gone quite to plan.
“During the pre-competition phase, we were working out of several hotels in the City,
Imagine the scene… We’re told that one of the teams here in the hotel is required to be tested – both blood and urine tests. It’s 7 am and so the athletes in question are about to get a rude awakening…. . One flaw in this cunning plan…. The hotel has given us wrong information, they’ve given us TOMORROW’S guest allocation instead… The Athletes are not actually in the country yet…. Oops ! So some poor unsuspecting business man gets a wake up call for no reason. Needless to say, we fell about laughing once the profuse apologies had been made, and the poor guest had gone back to bed”
You can read more Runners’ experiences in our next blog, coming soon…