THE Olympics kicked off in spectacular fashion on Friday with an opening ceremony that was worthy of a gold medal.
Not wanting to miss out on the Olympic action, the ‘MAIL’ has sent three correspondents to London to watch the Games unfold.
Okay, so that’s not strictly true - Mairead McMahon, Barry Magee and Gregor Aiken are at the Olympics in an official capacity as volunteers, but that hasn’t stopped us employing them as our eyes and ears in London.
Here’s what the trio had to say of the opening week of the Olympics.
Barry, who is acting as a Wayfinder at the ExCeL arena, commented: “The opening ceremony was absolutely fantastic until Paul McCartney came out and start crowing.
“I couldn’t wait to get here after watching the opening ceremony and the first day of the games on TV.
“The cycling road race was the big thing on Saturday. Mark Cavendish had bad luck.”
He continued: “I flew out on Sunday and stayed on a campsite at a rugby club. That night I watched Becky Adlington win bronze with a lot of crazy English people.
“The facilities are fine but it’s a couple of hundred yards away from a motorway so there wasn’t much sleep the first night.
“I think I’m going to stay at a friend’s house for the next few nights.”
Barry added: “I did my first day on Monday. It was fantastic.
“I met so many people from lots of different countries. Everyone is in great form and everybody is high-fiving.
“My job basically involves telling people where to go and in between times I’m acting the lig. There’s loads of good natured banter with people from different countries. Where I am there’s lots of South Africans, Australians and Germans.”
He added: “They gave me a big foam hand and someone offered me a tenner for it.
“All the children want their photo taken with me and because of the hand everyone wants a high five.
“I haven’t met anybody famous yet, but I have made loads of friends. It’s so easy to talk to other volunteers because we’re all in the same uniform.”
Mairead, who is volunteering at Wembley, has been keeping her followers updated on Facebook.
On Saturday she wrote: “Just casually directing all the world’s badminton players to their changing rooms, could get used to this! Was also five metres away from Prince Charles earlier in the afternoon! Team Ireland!”
On Sunday she posted: “Second shift at Wembley, all in all was a great day, was on Sky Sports news, met Gary Cotterill, seen an Irish girl win her first badminton game and got out two hours early to walk down Wembley Way with 90,000 football fans!”
On Monday she wrote: “Nearly missed my train back to the hotel because I offered to wheel a lady in her wheelchair to the nearest bus station, which was half a mile away. Turned out she was the mother of the two Belgium badminton players, they thanked me for my help, and asked ME for a picture! Absolutely awesome. AND I made my train.”
Gregor told the ‘MAIL’: “My role in the Games is to work as a Tribune Team Member of the Press Operations Team. I have been assigned to North Arena One, home of the Olympic Table Tennis, in London’s ExCel building.
“This role is a superb one for me as next month I will go into my second year studying Journalism at the University of the West of Scotland, Hamilton Campus, and therefore to work under the Press Operations at the world’s biggest sporting event is a great honour.
“I have two main tasks firstly to assist journalists with any problems or inquiries they may have and secondly to distribute the hard copy results, draws as the competitions progress and provide flash quotes from the athletes. Whilst Table Tennis may not have been a sport I was too acquainted with I am learning fast the technical aspects of the sport. The fast pace of the games has been amazing to watch.”He added: “Journalists from all over the world have attended the opening four rounds of the Table Tennis competition and I have met people reporting on the competitions from China, America, France and many more. As play progresses the journalists just keep coming. I have watched how the journalists accommodate each other; how they seek to meet their deadlines; the differences between those who work for newspapers, television and radio.
“When the journalists are happily working away I manage to grab a quick glimpse of the Table Tennis action. Table Tennis may not be the most popular sport in the UK but it does have some famous fans. Bill Gates, creator of computing giant Microsoft, dropped in to show his support for American’s Ariel Hsing.
“When I am not scheduled on a working shift I have been allowed access into the other arenas of the ExCel building. This privilege to access the other venues has enabled me to rub shoulders with journalists whose expertise lie in the field of other sports such as Boxing, Fencing, Weightlifting and Judo. Due to this I have been able to connect with a wide scale of journalists from across the world.”
Gregor’s involvement in the Games has been noticed all across the UK and in the early hours of Monday morning he was interviewed on BBC Radio Five Live.
He said: “My interview was broadcast live on Tony Livesey’s, 2012 Marathon show, ‘Late Night Olympics’ and I informed listeners of my role at the Games.
“To volunteer as part of the Olympic Games has enabled me to further my knowledge of the working lifestyle of a journalist. I have been able to gain experience learning from a hands on perspective of how Press Operations functions in a major event such as the Olympics is a one in a life time opportunity and something that will prepare me for life as a journalist.”