On 05 August 2014 In Volunteer News

Pre Games Preparation: Hardly had the euphoria of my ‘gamesmaker’ experience at the Olympic Games subsided, when I found myself applying to be a ‘clydesider’ at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in January last year. Yes, I now had a taste for more of the big occasions in sport. Two months later I was informed that my application had been accepted and I was invited to an interview in Glasgow in July 2013, the first of many trips to the city during the following year and rising at 4.30am in the morning to catch the first train out of New Street. The interview lasted one hour, during which the areas of my expertise both my career and sport were explored.

In September ’13, I was informed that my interview was successful  and I would be part of the Results Technology Services (RTS) team at the athletics events at Hampden Park at the Games, but the specific role was still unknown.

And so to the training events. The first was Orientation training at the new Emirates Stadium in Glasgow in March this year, in which groups of 5000 clydesiders  were welcomed to the Glasgow 2104 Commonwealth Games  and provide information to help us prepare for the Games Time role. This included information on the Games heritage, the sports included, the venues, the partners, the Games family, the baton relay, role of the workforce, the uniform and the legacy of the Games.

This was followed by Role Specific training in May at Hampden Park, my venue for the Games, where all in involved in Results Technology Services  received additional information to help perform our Games time role, including incident reporting, security, health and safety, safeguarding children, accreditation, etiquette, social media regulations, code of conduct.  In addition  there were individual role workshops and I found out that I had been selected for Timing  and Scoreboards and Results. (TSR)

Next came  accreditation and kit collection and Venue Specific Training in June and I was able to fulfil these on two consecutive days. Venue specific training was again held at Hampden Park, when we were briefed on shift preparation, what to do when arriving at the venue, health and safety at the venue, and our facilities and services. This was followed up with a complete tour of the venue , together with identification of where we were to meet our team leaders when on shift.

Games Time Training

And so to the Games themselves and two final days of training before the athletics starts. My 300 miles journey to my Games hosts in Troon starts on July 23rd, the day of the opening ceremony. Fortunately I had an excellent drive all the way and arrived in time to watch the opening ceremony. Now the excitement of being involved really dawned on me.

Next day competition began for the 71 competing nations, across 17 sports at 14 venues, which would include 22 medal events for para sport, but for me it was a role specific training day at Hampden Park where I finally found out that I would be in a team of 26, working on the athletics field events with the Technical Officials, entering the athletes performances into a computer located at the event site and displaying the data on the infield scoreboards. Unfortunately the timing partner hadn’t finished installing the wiring so we were unable to practice our role, which was deferred until the following day. However we were able to meet our team leader and the remainder of the clydesiders in TSR  and be shown all locations relevant to our role within the stadium.

I arrived at the stadium next day at 4pm, ready for our final training session and dress rehearsal, which would end at 11.30pm.

We all met with the Longines representatives who demonstrated the procedures involved during the course of a field event and which function keys to use in certain circumstances. Afterwards we were able to practice the procedure for ourselves in a ‘dummy’ run. Meanwhile other groups were also practicing their roles in the stadium, like those who place starting blocks and lane markers, putting hurdles on and removing from the track andmedal ceremony rehearsals. The stadium was buzzing and noisy. It was very difficult to hear the instructions given by our trainer, so we were all comparing notes to ensure we had the correct procedures in mind, because come the day, a mistake on an entry would be unforgivable.

Having spent two hours on training we moved on to the dress rehearsal, where athletes from local clubs had been given the opportunity to compete in the stadium for our benefit. There were several track events to test out the electronic timing equipment, including hurdles , to test out the issue and retrieval, a distance event to test out the transponders and intermediate times and several field events both distance and height events, where from our viewpoint were different procedures.  During the course of the evening we were all able to test out our newly acquired knowledge and then have a debriefing with our team leader to discuss any problems, which could be rectified before the athletics at the Games starts on the Sunday.

Athletics Competion

Now I was ready for the Games and my 6 shifts out of the total of 10, one day time, 3 mornings and 2 evenings.

   When I joined the train at Troon on Sunday, I really new the Games had arrived. It was packed with passengers and the atmosphere was buzzing with excitement. Just like the Olympics, passengers sitting close by, who would never enter into conversation normally, were interested to discover my role, now that I was wearing my volunteers uniform. On arrival in Glasgow, Central station was extremely busy and I had to join a long queue for the train out to Hampden Park. Spectators were in a queue a mile long waiting to pass through security checkpoints outside the stadium, but I was able to take the workforce route and gain immediate access. Having passed through security I then had to pass through workforce check-in, before being able to take the route, now very meandering to my meeting point. For our training sessions the walk from the station to the stadium took 5 minutes, now it was taking 45 minutes!

Our team brief took place 1h 30mins before the first event, when we were informed of our field event for the session and any other relevant information. Mine was to be the Women’s Para Long jump Final at 2.30pm. Protocol required us to meet the Technical Officials team in their lounge area 1hour before event was due to start and then to walk out into the stadium in single file by a prescribed route to the event site, 45 minutes before the start of event. I sat next to a Technical Official in charge of card 2 and a representative of the broadcaster as well as the Field Referee.

Five minutes before the first event at every session the crowd were invited to rehearse the famous Hampden roar and the noise levels, reaching up to 120dBwere displayed on the giant scoreboards.

Two minutes before the event was due to start the athletes were lined up and introduced to the crowd at which point I displayed their names onto the in field scoreboard. As soon as that was completed the name of the first athlete was displayed, ready for the start of the completion. As the athletes took their trials I checked whether or not the trail was legal and then waited to either enter the distance achieved or an ‘x’ for a foul, which after conferring with the official sitting with me, I displayed on the infield scoreboard for 5 to 10 seconds maximum, before moving on to the next competitor.  As this was a para event with different categories of disability each performance had to converted into Raza points for ranking purposes. This continued until the end of round 3, when after having checked all the athletes performances with the official I reversed the order of the top 8 athletes for the final 3 rounds, whilst ending the competition for those athletes who failed to qualify.

Similarly at the end of the competition, all performances were checked with the technical official and I listed the final ranking on the infield scoreboards. Just in case there were any protests, displaying the final result was withheld until given the go ahead by the field referee.  One official then led all the athletes to the mixed zone, whilst the remainder of us left once again in single file by a prescribed route.

The remainder of the session I was able to sit in a specific area of the home straight grandstand to watch the rest of the evening’s action.

Afterwards came the journey back to base. Unlike at London, there was no fast track back to the station for volunteers and I had to wait in the queues for over an hour to catch a train back to Glasgow Central and thence out to Troon, arriving back just before 1am to rise again next morning at 5am to travel in for the morning shift.

Luckily there were no queues that early in the morning and travel to the venue was uneventful and I arrived in good time at 8am, ready for the 8.30 am briefing. Today I was allocated to the Men’s Decathlon Long Jump and the procedure was as the previous day without any incident.

Next morning I was again allocated to Long jump, this time the men’s qualifying with Gregg Rutherford and Chris Tomlinson. I have fond memories  of Gregg at the Olympics, where I led him out for the final in my role of athlete steward. Here the athlete who came thirteenth and therefore failed to qualify protested that one of his jumps was measured incorrectly, but what he didn’t realise that new technology was being used and all trials had been recorded, so it was easy to confirm that the  original measurement was indeed correct.

The week then progressed very smoothly with Discus Men’s qualifying on Wednesday, and Discus Men’s final on Thursday evening.

 The final evening was marred by torrential rain, but fortunately for me there were only 3 field events and I wasn’t required and I was able to watch some exciting athletics from the comfort of my seat in the stands. The last event the men’s 4 x 100m was a fitting end with Usain Bolt leading the Jamaican team to victory much to the delight of the crowd, with England only just behind in 2nd. Bolt then spent the next 45 minutes slowly walking around the arena signing autographs and having photos taken with spectators, delaying the final medal ceremony.  This was a ‘Super Sodden Saturday’ for England with 1 gold medal, 1 silver medal and 4 bronze medals.

In summary Glasgow did a great job in organising the Games, people were friendly, I met up again with many of the gamesmakers in my team form London and have made new friends from these games. Whilst it was never going to equal the atmosphere of the Olympics it was nevertheless a very enjoyable Games.

What’s next for me…….. World Athletic championships in London 2017 and World Indoor Championships in Birmingham  2018. Bring it on!

On 28 April 2014 In Volunteer News

Dear BRAT members, thank you for such an excellent turnout at the AGM last night - yet another BRAT record for 2014!  The BRAT Club is in a strong financial position and a fresh team of enthusiastic volunteers have been elected to serve on the Executive Committee for a 2 year (renewable) term.  Your executive committee is now Mark Hirsch, Duncan Hough, Richard Carney, Pat Cox, Martin Ludford, Charly Bamford, Ed Banks, Adrian Carter, Joel Griffin, Russ Hall, Simon White, Chris Gollings and Tauny Southwood.  Chris Ashford is the new men's triathlon captain to work with Daisy Wilson the women's triathlon captain.  Harry Fowler will be taking over the Kit Subcommittee to work with Stacey Bamford, Steve Washbourne and Mark Hirsch.  Hazel Padmore was elected to work with El Quested, Ed Banks and Eloise Lee on the BRAT News team.  All other club officers will continue in their present positions for 2014-15.  Thank you for all your support and here's to even more sucessful years in the future.

On 22 October 2013 In Volunteer News

They say that volunteering is its own reward.  Well, if that is the case, there must be a huge number of wealthy BRATs in the club.  It was extraordinary to see, and hear about, the many BRATs who put in long hours of service on behalf of others, not only at the Great Birmingham Run on Sunday (which was very impressive), but day in, day out despite family commitments, job, personal training needs and the need for sleep.  Let's start with the GBR - too many to name but all part of the big BRAT family - well over 30 BRATs at the first drinks station who were on their feet for nearly 5 hours preparing the station, handing out waterbottles to 20,000 runners, yelling encouragement to 140 BRAT runners (and a few others), cleaning up afterwards, and making their way home, often on foot due to traffic restrictions.  

What about the BRATs who sacrificed their own run times to be pacemakers (timelords) - carrying poles with set finish times so that others could achieve their goals?  What about the BRATs who were officials, clocking times, ensuring the rules were met?  And the BRATs who were start and finish line marshals, and the many, many BRATs who lined the course taking photos and shouting their own messages of encouragement to any recognisable BRAT.  Don't forget all the BRATs who helped leading up to the event, coaching, leading sessions, sports massaging, caring for the health of BRATs, organising kit, organising lists of names, contacting and dealing with the Race Organisers, organising publicity, organising the club itself, contributing to our various sports organisations, organising meetings in the pub after the race and inviting everyone along and organising results and putting them on the website.  Incredible - it makes you proud to be a BRAT.  Two BRATs have been honoured recently by being awarded West Midlands Triathlon England awards for coach of the year (Steve Keenie Titmarsh) and official of the year (Paul Twose) - well done guys.  Several have been similarly honoured in the past (Sarah Hough was national official of the year for British Triathlon last year, and Duncan Hough before her to mention two), but these are just the tip of the iceberg.  Let's celebrate this wonderful, big hearted BRAT Club of ours.  It is a rare, rare and mighty example of altruism and the generosity of the human spirit. GO YOU BRATs!

On 03 April 2013 In Volunteer News

1st notice: the BRAT AGM will be held in the Midland Arts Centre (MAC) Cannon Hill Park B12 9QH at 6pm on Sunday 12th May.  All BRAT members are most welcome - please come along and have a say in the running of your club, and maybe even a cheeky drink afterwards. The agenda will include elections to the following positions on the Executive Committee: Chairman, Director of Coaching, Director of Club Development, Director of Marketing and Promotions.  The agenda and minutes of last years meeting will be available for download from the Volunteers page soon.

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