Olympic Opening Ceremony final rehearsal promises the greatest show on earth
Last night, I was lucky enough to attend the final rehearsal for the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games. It was the first time I have ventured out to Stratford during the build up to this epic sporting event and the Olympic Park is truly breathtaking.
As soon as you arrive, you join a sea of people making their way towards the impressive stadium. Huge signs direct you towards the various areas of the Olympic Park and a long walkway displays dramatic sponsorship banners; most of which include inspirational quotes or feature Britain’s most promising medal-winning hopes. The scene is set and you can’t help but feel a spark of excitement run through your body.
But what really makes the Olympic Park so special is the atmosphere. Hundreds of volunteers, who have given up their summer holidays to work at the event, greet you with beaming smiles and abundant enthusiasm. If you didn’t have a smile on your face before you arrived at Stratford, it won’t be long before you are grinning from ear-to-ear.
The helpers bellow into their microphones, proudly saluting visitors from across the globe. ‘Welcome to London; you will have the time of your life’, one voice echoed. And as we are on the brink of hosting the world’s most prolific sporting occasion, I am in no doubt the athletes, spectators and volunteers that are descending upon our capital will witness an experience never to be forgotten.
The volunteers embody Olympic Spirit and although there would be no Games without the athletes, there would be no stage for them to compete on without the Games Makers. They are fundamental when running an event of such gigantic proportions and work long hours, for free.
My mother is a Games Maker – tweeting at @OlympicCab – and she is spending the next few weeks driving athletes and VIPs to and from the events; her shifts are 10 hours long and she often doesn’t finish until 1am. “I wanted to contribute and be a part of history. I would actually rather be involved in helping run the event than watch it as a spectator because you really feel part of it.” Her enthusiasm is infectious, as is that of so many other volunteers.
Many of the vast team are working through the night, assigned to an array of different tasks. At the rehearsal I was sat next to a lady who has been involved with organising the wiring for the huge number of computers that are required at the stadium for media. Her daughter is another volunteer and is greeting visitors as they step off the plane at Heathrow; “She absolutely loves it and it has given her the chance to meet some wonderful people. It is a really inspiring experience.”
Olympic Fever has stretched much further than East London and there is currently a palpable energy consuming the city. This is no doubt filtering through the entire country as we prepare to support our home-grown talent when the international spotlight shines on them, whilst on home turf.
With the penultimate day of the Olympic Torch Relay in full swing, the anticipation is building rapidly. The Opening Ceremony promises to provide a fantastic finale to this sense of expectation. The lighting, performers, special effects, volunteers and surprise moments guarantee the ‘wow factor’ on Friday.
All those attending the rehearsal last night were asked to #SaveTheSurprise. And in keeping with Olympic Spirit, I won’t be revealing any of the details; despite having already been bombarded by colleagues and friends who are desperately seeking hints of what is in store.
But my lips are well and truly sealed, as Great Britain prepares to host the greatest show on earth…