Last year I volunteered at the Hyde Park ITU World Championship Series Triathlon. I worked on the Sunday, all day during the Age Group olympic distance race on the run course, and then in the early part of the afternoon on the pro bike course. It was a great day. I love marshalling – like all volunteering it is a chance to give back to something you love by helping others. With triathlon, this means helping out on a course, making sure no pedestrian traffic impedes a race, and my twist is to make sure I clap and encourage the athletes as they go around (not all marshalls in UK events do this!).
After the WCS race one of the things mentioned to marshalls was that we would be given a code to use to apply to volunteer for the London Olympics – a special Olympics Games Maker code. To sort your application straight into the triathlon volunteer pool.
The codes were also available via my triathlon club. Wow. 2 chances to obtain a code for a Games Maker application.
And the London Olympics Organising Committee is located in my office building. So the day of the launch of the Games Maker volunteer drive, posters were everywhere.
It was all a sign – to apply to be a Olympics Games Maker.
So I did. And my interview to be a part of the London 2012 Olympics triathlon team was yesterday.
The triathlon team received approximately 1200 applications – each with an assigned code distributed throughout UK triathlon club, by British Triathlon, and to volunteers at various local and major triathlons in the country. And from this 800 people will be interviewed for 600 volunteer spots.
What an amazing chance to be a part of the Olympics – to see the Games from a totally different perspective. And to give something back to the sport that has given me a purpose and an opportunity to get strong, stay fit and feel great.
I ran into Steve Casson before our interviews – we had the same slot. I had met Steve at the BTF paratriathlon open day in October, so it was great to see him again and to chat about our respective upcoming cycle challenges. We chatted only briefly about triathlon, our conversation mostly about the requirements of being a volunteer at the Olympics which included marshalling this year’s World Championship Series race. I told him about my hesitation in participating this year in the paratriathlon event on the same weekend, so soon after my London triathlon olympic distance race and my uncertainties about my ability to recover in time. We also talked about how participation may make it tough to meet the marshalling requirement to be a volunteer at the Olympics. Steve gave me some great food for thought. In particular: why wouldn’t I participate, it is the chance of a lifetime to race on the Olympic course, in an elite paratriathlon event the same year as paratriathlon was accepted as a paralympic sport. I’m going to have to mull this over for a while, before I make my own decisions about my 2011 events and season…
The interview itself was, well, an interview. I have been a part of screening teams before for graduate recruitment at my employer, and it is a process I understand well. The interviewers clearly have some values or characteristics they look for, and the interviewees through their examples will help the interviewers with evidence to demonstrate whether or not they possess the screened characteristics. Of course, it would have been helpful if I had thought about what qualities they want in a volunteer – and that these would be the same characteristics that the Olympic movement seeks to embody. It would have helped me to prep for the interview and to have examples ready. But I didn’t. I kind of did this interview on the hop – quite unlike me.
I did my best to demonstrate with my answers my endurance, fighting spirit, love of triathlon, history of volunteering, positivity and enthusiasm, and ability to work as a part of and as a leader of teams. I drew on examples from my own participation in triathlons as well as my workplace to try to give variety and depth to my answers. It was not easy!
Some of it was expected – what is your favourite Olympic sport? Paralympic sport? When did you first start watching the Olympics? Those answers were easy – I love triathlon as it is the sport I do, although I am a huge fan of swimming and water polo as the US team used to use our school’s pool for winter training when I was growing up, and I love paralympic swimming as the pool I train in is also used by Team GB paralympic swimmers. I can’t remember when exactly I started watching the Olympics – I am American and sport is a part of our national culture, but probably 1976 and Dorothy Hamill is my earliest memory.
Some of it was harder – when have you gone out of your way to help a colleague or a stranger. My goodness. How to answer that? I gave two examples, but I thought after that I should’ve done much better with this one I have tons – just tons – of examples to draw from and I just drew a blank.
But all of it was fun. It was exciting to contemplate being a part of the London 2012 Games. I am not sure if my answers will gain the marks needed to be a part of the actual day, but certainly the Games Maker process was a great opportunity to learn more about the games, to see that the people who will be volunteering are all amazing experienced triathletes and triathlon supporters, and to feel extremely confident that triathlon is on the way to being the best possible experience for athletes, spectators, and volunteers alike at London 2012.
Now it is just a matter of waiting to see if I make the cut. Fingers crossed! In the meantime I will be applying for tickets – the deadline is April 26th!