Bounce it, flip it, dunk it! That’s how our training started – in my case it was a week before the Games. This August, I was a volunteer translator. They called us Gamers Makers because we made the games happen – from translation for athletes and reporters to supporting athletes in their day-to-day life to guiding spectators.
But that training day… what a day! We danced, we stretched and we did some good work and learning too, all ending up in the pub with a drink as a courtesy of our fabulous managers. The feeling of being a games maker became concrete for the first time that day. It was so lovely to feel the passion all the games makers have shown. I was part of the North Greenwich Arena Protocol & Language Team and we were a fabulous team!
I have to admit I was not excited when I received a long email with the terminology for gymnastics and basketball. Although very helpful to have these terms in advance to practice for the interpreting, it was a bit of a challenge to learn 17 pages of terms for gymnastics and 14 pages of specific terms in basketball! Do you know what ‘pommel horse’ is in Romanian?! *
During the Olympics, no day was the same. One day, I met some of the best gymnasts in the world. On others, the day would start with inviting high profile officials and continue with showing them the way to their seats. I thought that despite their status (Olympic Committee Officials, Royals, etc.) they were very understandable when we had to explain that the seating was full and they had to wait. Royals, however, always had their seat reserved!
For me, however, some gymnasts who participated at this Olympics Games became my heroes because of their sportsmanship and excellence. An example is the Bulgarian gymnast who has attended the Olympics for his 6th and last time at London 2012. To me, he is the embodiment of challenging oneself in order to attain excellence. As a Bulgarian (and Olympic gymnast) veteran, Jordan Jovtchev, 38, he qualified for the finals in front of 60 other much younger gymnasts – the crowd was so supportive, but if you look at his impressive career it is not hard to guess why.
One feeling that stayed with me is the electrifying feeling of the gymnastics arena. The crowd made such an impression that my hairs stood up. It was truly exciting! I think that in gymnastics it’s different. It’s not like in a boxing arena where people scream to support their supporters. It was more a sense of tension gripping the whole arena during the gymnasts’ performance.
From a professional perspective, having the opportunity to practice interpreting was a great learning experience with a press conference and several translations for journalists and reporters. It was quite daunting at first to interpret at a press conference, but it was enough to do it once successfully then it rolled on.
The language team worked behind the stage or in front of TV cameras. Once athletes have finished their performance in the eyes of the spectators and gave TV interviews, they went through this zone which was a deviation from their route to the bus or training hall. I saw athletes elated and willing to speak to whoever would ask from the reporters. I’ve seen some sad faces, full of disappointment due to their performance or with their results. Some tears of sadness and others of joy, words of hope for the gold and much more.
All in all, it was a great experience to volunteer for the 2012 London Olympics. I am still nostalgic. September 10 was the last day I officially wore the Games Maker uniform and that was to celebrate with the rest of the crowd the British athletes. Without athletes there would be no Games Makers. Without Games Makers there would be no Games. For an exclusive farewell message from Eddie Ezzard, click here.
* In Romanian pommel horse is: cal cu mânere (lit. trans. horse with handles)