Trackside at the Athletics, London 2012.
George Labor shares his experience of London 2012.
So after months of anticipation and nearly losing the belief that it would ever happen, the e-mail finally arrived. I thought it was yet another e-mail telling me I was still under consideration. But when I opened it, there was something different about this one. It had a lot more writing. In fact it was an e-mail asking if I was still available to work at the London 2012 Olympics and could I cover Athletics: yes and yes!!! I wanted to pick up the phone and scream “I accept!” to someone but the system didn’t work like that and e-mail response was all I could do.
The timing of the email, just a few weeks before the start of the Games, made it difficult to organise my diary at Bodybalance. We were already on an additional schedule at the clinic to cover the extra service we were providing to the countries using the Hertfordshire Sports Village as a Pre-Olympic training camp. I was asked to start my Olympic shift a week before the Games began; first at the training track and then working throughout the entire Athletics programme.
Accreditation and uniform collection was very exciting and really started to bring the whole experience to life, though the location in East London had not been chosen for its aesthetics. A few tube stops away I got my first experience of what would become the “Olympic vibe”. As the location was near the end of the tube line there were not many people on. Whereas usually everyone would be looking down and not chatting to each other, suddenly complete strangers were smiling away and excitedly talking about what they were going to be doing; it was great. The uniform was at best, in my opinion, functional – I will not be wearing it again.
The first shift came around in no time. Fully kitted out like on my first day at a new school, the uniform which had fitted like a glove when collected, was oddly both too long and too tight in various places. It was 7.30am, a week from the start of the Olympics, and I was travelling on the tube in my full uniform. At this stage a lot of the general public hadn’t seen anyone in this before. I was getting strange looks and feeling very self-conscious. However, as the tube got closer to Stratford, more volunteers got on and, again, there was immediate solidarity amongst us and we were chatting in no time. The shift flew by but in hindsight without much going on. The majority of the bigger nation’s athletes were in still in holding camps around the UK and Europe meaning there were only a handful of athletes training in London.
The shift I had eagerly been waiting for at the Stadium came around. Yep, I was off to the Olympic Park and the Stadium itself! I kept checking my accreditation had not fallen of my neck. It was worth more than one of Willy Wonker’s magic tickets to me! The first thing that blew me away was the size of the Olympic Park; it was huge. The next thing was how smoothly and efficiently it all was controlled from getting through the military security to moving around the park and getting directions off the volunteers.
The medical team at the Stadium and the warm up track was much larger than other venues; there were 10 physiotherapists and sports massage therapists between the main stadium and the warm up track, 3 sports doctors and an army of first aiders. We were all rotated to cover the different medical areas and the track.
I was in the Stadium on the morning of “Golden Saturday” and the roar when Jessica Ennis was performing was electric. It was nerve racking being on standby with 70,000 people in the stadium and millions more watching live on TV.
I was very fortunate to have a number of amazing, different experiences over the 3 weeks. I was one of the lucky ballot winners to watch the opening ceremony dress rehearsal and I am proud to say I managed to keep it a secret (even from my wife)! I got to watch a huge number of famous track and field athletes on the warm up track in a more relaxed atmosphere than they normally are in front of the world’s media. I was also asked to work for part of the Closing Ceremony and also managed to watch some of it. These truly were once in a life time opportunities that I shall never forget. I am very proud of the small part I played in the London 2012 Olympic Games.
On the fencing piste at London 2012
Kessie Soper shares her experience of London 2012.
Having volunteered to provide physiotherapy support for the London 2012 Games, I was allocated to the sport of fencing which was based at the Excel arena. Fencing is a sport which I’d only worked with briefly once prior to the Games, so this provided a fantastic experience both to learn about a new sport and to be involved with London 2012.
Nearly 2 years after applying to be involved, Games time was finally approaching and I was so excited to have the opportunity to fulfil a lifelong dream to be involved in an Olympic Games. I had several days of training and my first shift was the week before the competition began. There was already a real buzz of excitement at the venue with everyone working hard on final touches to make sure everything was ready. The athletes could use the training areas for technical training and familiarisation. This was one of the busiest times in the clinic as the athletes were keen to iron out any last minute niggles; and it was great to start to get to know some of the fencers who would be competing.
After the inspiration of an amazing opening ceremony, the fencing competition began on day one of the Games. With everything in place – special lighting and a sell-out crowd – the atmosphere in the arena was electric. My main role as physio was to sit at the side of the fencing piste with a doctor and be ready to assess and treat any injuries which occurred on the field of play. In between play I was based in the athlete’s medical room to treat those who weren’t competing at the time. It certainly was a perk of the job to have a front row seat to watch all the action! Each day there were medals at stake; knock out qualifying rounds in the morning and the finals in the afternoon. It was great to be able to follow the action and to see the athletes so proudly collecting their medals at the end of the day.
I was surprised at how many injuries occurred during the course of the competition and how frequently I was required to go onto the field of play. Most of the injuries were minor, and the athletes were able to continue competing, though I was required to deal with a couple more serious injuries which unfortunately meant the end of the competition for the athletes involved. This is always a very difficult aspect of working in sport when so much hard work is lost in a moment.
The role also involved quite a bit of behind-the-scenes planning and organisation. As it was shift work I was often working with different people each day. The medical team consisted of a selection of doctors from various backgrounds, physiotherapists, sports massage practitioners and dentists. Each morning and afternoon, we gathered together to organise the day and practice how to deal with ‘worst case’ scenarios, including how to safely and efficiently remove an athlete from the field of play.
It was a great experience to meet and work with so many different professionals from all over the country, who normally work in completely different settings. I learnt all about the sport of fencing, including the 3 weapons, the rules associated with each weapon, equipment and technology, common fencing injuries and I even managed to grasp a little bit about tactics! Everyone involved was immensely friendly, eager to help and the competition ran very smoothly.
Overall, it was a fantastic experience which I will remember very fondly. I felt very proud to play a small part in the 2012 Olympic games, which I am sure will prove to have inspired a generation.
Our new website is finally finished
We’re very happy to welcome you to our new website and blog. There have been several months of hard work in the making of this but we like it and hope that you do too.
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Keep an eye out for regular blogs of interest about what is going on at Bodybalance as well as current affairs in the world of sport and sports medicine.
And please also take note that our clinic email has changed to:
IN BALANCE, Volume 1, Issue 1, Summer 2012
Bodybalance newsletter Summer 2012: The newsletter of Bodybalance Physiotherapy & Sports Injury Clinic.
- Bodybalance and the upcoming Olympics
- Our new logo and a new name for the North London clinic
- Meet the admin team
- Extended opening hours – evenings and weekends now covered.
- All you need to know about the hamstring
Click on the link above to be taken to a pdf version of this newsletter
Welcome to our new blog
Welcome to Bodybalance Physiotherapy & Sports Injury Clinic.
We’ve decided to start a blog as part of our new website which we are creating to go with the planned rebranding of our clinic in North London.
Watch this space for more details.
Like us on facebook: www.facebook.com/bodybalancephysio
Follow us on twitter: @bodybalphysio https://twitter.com/bodybalphysio