As you might have gathered from some previous posts, I’ve been working as a Young Ambassador for Team GB at the Youth Olympic Games which are due to start in two days time in Singapore. As one of 30 such Ambassadors from 30 different National Olympic Committees – it was a great experience to be part of my own National Olympic Committee’s ‘Kitting Out Day’ on Monday ahead of Team GB’s departure to Singapore. The day consisted of the distribution of the kit to all athletes, coaches and officials as well as lots of media interviews before we got on the plane to Singapore on Monday evening. For an interview with one of Britain’s top prospects for the Games Victoria Ohuruogu you can click here. You can also find a related interview I did recently with another of the members of Team GB Eli Thorogood about her expectations for Singapore a few weeks ago.
The kitting out day itself was but one facet of the huge number of support systems and services that would be called into play throughout Monday and will yet be relied upon throughout the athletes stay in Singapore. All of these ‘services’ and ‘systems’ are critical to ensuring athlete participation and success in Singapore but are unfortunately rarely seen by spectators or viewers at home.
The kit itself, fundamental to ensuring that the athletes have a consistent and visceral sense of team and national identity, was delivered on six pallets on Sunday morning and sorted by a volunteer team all Sunday into the 75 or so kitbags that accompanied us out to Singapore – that’s nearly 7000 individual pieces of clothing – thanks have to go to Adidas of course but also to those in the BOA Office who gave up there Sunday and who have spent months in the co-ordination of the design, sizing, manufacture and delivery of all this gear.
The next major piece of logistics that came into play on Monday was of course transportation – there is something quite amazing about the ability of British Airways and Heathrow Airport to cope with being descended upon by 70-odd athletes and staff, with huge amounts of gear and fragile sporting equipment – in addition to being able to deal with the thousands of other travellers flying in and out on Monday night.
Needless to say all the kit (and team members) made it to Singapore safely, but it is to me fascinating all the details that go into running a international multisport event such as the Youth Olympic Games – an area for the outsized fencing, pole vault, cycling and kayaking equipment to be dropped off at the airport and taken to the venues for example. Or the hundreds of young Singaporeans and international volunteers between the airport and the Olympic Village to meet, greet and escort athletes and officials through their accreditation and to the accommodation. All of whom must have been trained in the past few weeks and months. All working together seamlessly to help ensure that the 3,600 athletes from 205 different nations can congregate in anticipation of the start of the Games. Indeed, the value of the kit is also affirmed in simply being able to distinguish yourself and your team mates from everyone else in such a high concentration of people, processes and equipment!
If you haven’t sussed it already, the theme of this post is support and there are a few things really that have really struck me so far in this experience relating to the idea of support services. 1) All of the logistics support mentioned above and the tireless – often unnoticed – care and energy that goes into ensuring that the team get from a to b intact and in the right state of mind. 2) The unique relationships and support between parents and athletes and coaches and athletes that have enabled and empowered these talented youngsters to achieve what they have and that continue to help support and prepare the athletes ahead of their imminent competitions. Its also interesting to observe the way the relationships between athletes are shaped by the experience of travelling together and living with each other in the fist couple of days in the Youth Olympic Village – Team GB is taking shape. 3) It’s also interesting the way that the media helps cultivate support for the athletes with the folks back home, on the behalf of whom they are of course competing and 4) the amazing way that Singaporeans have come together to support the Olympics coming to their home city and country and the staggering efforts that have been put in by them all here to shape the accommodation and the competition venues and to make sure they are all running smoothly at Games time.
I’m looking forward to the next two weeks of doing my bit to support the performance of Team GB and I’m looking forward to sharing it with you. For latest updates you can either follow me on Twitter or Team GB on Twitter and Facebook. The whole team looks forward to your support.