Thursday, August 23, 2012

Keeping the volunteering flame burning - Sue Maughan

In our final Olympic blog, before we ratchet up the excitemnt levels for the Paralympic Games, Sport Wales Senior Officer, Sue Maughan, recounts her highlights as a Games Maker official for athletics at the Olympics. 
Sue (centre) at Olympic Park with fellow sport Wales Games
Makers Rich Dando and Claire Knowles
The Olympic flame may have been extinguished, but the passion and fire for sport thankfully lives on… you can feel it in the air and we need to make that feeling last. We who work in sport have a responsibility to make sure this happens.

Personally I’ve been extremely privileged to have played a role in what was from an athletics point of view, officially recorded as the Best Olympics ever (I have the emails from the IAAF and LOCOG’s Athletics  team to prove it). 

I’m sure the same can be said of the Games as a whole. It was two weeks of my life which gave me amazing experiences and memories that I will cherish for ever.

At our first field event briefing meeting the field referee recounted his personal account of his affinity with the Olympics and the challenges he personally faced to be there, bringing a tear to the eyes of even the most hard hearted person in the room…and that’s the power of sport. 

We laughed, we cheered, we cried. We heard stories of personal battles to achieve amazing things. We saw genuine talent on show and wherever you walked in the park you saw happy, smiling people, living every minute, loving every minute, soaking it in and enjoying! If only we could bottle this up and sell it!

I’ve been asked what was my highlight of the Games, but  just one is impossible to pin down, so here’s a selection.
    Sue officiating at the discus inside the Olympic Stadium
  • Having the privilege of walking into the stadium everyday and then play a part in someone achieving their lifetime dream s and goals.
  • Standing in the middle of the discus sector trying to concentrate whilst Jess Ennis runs her 200m and the wall of sound follows her around the stadium.
  • That sound...Turning from a cheer to a roar which almost hits you on the back of the neck when you’re in the centre of the arena.
  • Witnessing that 100m men’s final.
  • Seeing close hand what success meant to the German Discus thrower winning gold…he was the one who ripped his shirt open and then jumped the hurdles!
  • The crowd doing the YMCA before the men’s decathlon Pole Vault got underway…and what a competition that was!
  • Watching the closing ceremony.
  • I could go on and on...
The 220 track and field National Technical Officials
Away from the frontline athletics there were also the experiences of the workforce of volunteers who made the event happen. Just from a track and field point of view there were over 220 National Technical Officials required to put the event on. The camaraderie amongst us all was something else that will stay with me – the atmosphere in the hotel bar on Super Saturday was ‘bouncing!’ 

Volunteers are vital to make sport happen and hopefully the Olympics will not only inspire future generations of champions but encourage others to get involved behind the scenes. 

As I said in my first blog, I never imagined my involvement as an athletics official would result in me being part of the greatest show on earth.  But fortunately my journey isn’t over yet as next week sees me returning to officiate at the Paralympics…my bag is packed and ready to go. I can’t wait!

Celebrate the volunteers and coaches who keep community sport alive in your area by nominating your local heroes today for one of our Coach of the Year awards.

Keep track of all our Welsh athletes at London 2012 and follow @sport_wales on Twitter for all the latest news. Remember to use the #2012cymruwales hash tag!