By Sepi Roshan
“Please empty your pockets. Coins, watches, belts and liquids. Takes your hats and jackets off. Skull your drinks!”
This was my Olympics security catch cry on Super Saturday at Hyde Park, the home of the women’s triathlon. But before I can perfect my catch cry, I have to execute my own Olympic journey: ready at 5.30am; role call at 6.30am, spectator entry at 7.30am.
I am on my way to my first volunteer gig as the city of London lies asleep, waiting for the huge Olympic Super Saturday to take hold. I love London in the morning. I love the serenity. London, after a beautiful new dawn, provides the greatest opportunity to walk around the streets, at my own leisure. I can enjoy looking at the beautiful buildings and watch the shopkeepers scurrying around, getting ready for another day’s trading. No sirens, no douf-douf music pouring out of smart cars and no school groups blocking the footpath or Tube entrances.
Walking up Queensway towards Kensington Gardens, there is the slightest hint of sun breaking through the rain clouds. Having heard the rain tapping on the window before the alarm went off at 5am, like most Londoners, I was concerned. Will London’s weather behave today?
I reach the entrance, get scanned in and go through security. There are so many MOD (Ministry of Defence) guys and gals, giving up their time to support the volunteers and make London 2012 a great success. I don’t think I will ever get used to being called “Ma’am” by someone in uniform, but the British love their traditions, so I go with it. Many of the soldiers are young and have just returned from Afghanistan. I hope they enjoy the day as much as I hope I will.
Suddenly it’s 7.30am and the gates finally open. Rows of expectant spectators are patiently standing in line. It’s now only the barriers and security checks keeping them from Olympic glory. Mums, dads, brothers, sisters and better halves. Aunties and nieces. Supporters, clutching their tickets; all eager to get in and watch their personal champions win gold. As I help the first spectator through security screening, I feel proud to be Australian — and proud to be a Londoner. I enjoy welcoming people from all over the world into my local park. I meet proud Britons and visitors from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan and Switzerland, to name just a few.
Finally, its 9.30am and sunny. Good old, London. Coming through again, at the last minute. All the spectators are in, milling around the barriers. The triathlon begins. Many nations, side by side, watching their favourite triathlete and paying homage to the endurance and tenacity of all the competitors. No fighting, no disrespecting, no ill will — just a sense of solidarity with the athletes and each other. We want success for everyone. We are – for a moment – citizens of the world.
The triathlon provided thrills and spills, galore. An unfortunate crash ended the dream of gold for Australia’s Emma Moffat. I had screened through her supporters, so felt an extra tinge of personal sadness.
Each time the triathletes passed, the crowd would cheer. And the crowds continued to cheer until the last triathlete crossed the finish line. It was clear, that everyone was a winner: the athletes, the crowds and the volunteers. And most of all, London 2012. I leave the day smiling, and terribly excited about my next shift.