The Olympic Games are over for another four years. Now all the excitement is dying down – until the Paralympics in two weeks’ time! – let’s hear some stories from those who had first-hand experience of London 2012.
Colin Baker (right, pastor, Grays Baptist Church and Chair of Transformation Thurrock) has spent the Olympic Games as a volunteer Games Maker. Here is what he told Transformation Thurrock about his experiences.
TT: What have you been doing in your role as a London 2012 Games Maker?
CB: I have been an Olympic Family Assistant
TT: Which venues did you go to and what sports did you take people to see?
CB: Lords (shooting), Weymouth (sailing), Wimbledon (tennis), Wembley Arena (badminton), Aquatics (swimming, diving & synchronised), Olympic Stadium (athletics).
TT: Have you been able to see any of the sporting action?
CB: Yes but only about 4 games of tennis & badminton.
TT: Have you met any interesting people? If so, who?
CB: I have met some v interesting people. IOC members and presidents or general secretaries of National Olympic Committees. I had the privilege of looking after the Kenyan legendary runner: Keino Kipchoge. Whilst driving the Croatian NOC I had the honour of a whole day with the Croatian Ambassador! Several others from India, Chinese Hong Kong, Central African Republic, Guatemala, and a General from Bangladesh!
TT: Were the people you met aware of your usual job? What were their reactions when you told them?
CB: I waited until they asked me. Didn’t want to let the cat out of the bag too soon. Some were surprised that a priest should be a volunteer but I think it presented great opportunities for faith sharing.
TT: How has your faith helped you and have you been able to share it in an appropriate and relevant way?
CB: The Lord has provided several opportunities. I have learnt to be patient for the right moments to share. Very often the most precious times have been with those who held other faiths or very little faith. I have had opportunities to pray for people and upon seeing them days later they declared that God had healed them. In sharing faith I have had the chance to declare my faith in Jesus. He is our great hope. I had the privilege of sharing the incredible good news of Christ with some very influential people.
TT: Have you met any famous people? If so, who?
CB: Well, I have already mentioned Kip, also met Sven Goran Ericson, Frankie Fredricks, Sabine Lisicki and many of the 66,000 Games Makers, the G4S team, the armed forces and The Lord Mayor’s ambassadors who helped people around London.
TT: What has been the stand-out moment of your two weeks as a London 2012 Games Maker?
CB: I find it difficult to single one out. I guess it really has to be that I wanted to be part of making sure the Games were a success – and they are!!! On a personal level I felt the hardest and most tiring days were when I had to work at communicating in other languages. That was okay so long as I had a slight grasp of the language!
TT: How do you think these Olympic Games will be remembered, and do you think there will be a legacy as the government hopes?
CB: Having spent some time in the athletes village I can’t think who wouldn’t want to live there and for the rest of the sporting venues – they are state of the art. The legacy has to be a change in the attitude of our nation – this small island of ours has just hosted the most successful games and we have also triumphed in many disciplines. We should be very proud of what we have achieved. I will mention the Games Makers again because the Indian NOC said that they have really made the biggest difference from previous Games.
TT: How will you personally remember the experience of being a London 2012 Games Maker?
CB: Early starts and some late finishes but tiredness was not a factor. It was a sense of being part of history and I wouldn’t have traded the experience for anything.
TT: Thank you, Colin.