I actually got up pretty early this morning. Not out of choice, but it was about an hour before my alarm was set. When you’re sleeping in a tent, you tend to prefer getting up than rolling over and going back to sleep. My shift was scheduled to start at 12:00, but getting to Lee Valley from Walthamstow is not particularly difficult since it only takes about half an hour, including connections.
Today was the day – my first victory ceremony of London 2012! I was definitely excited, even more so given that Richard Hounslow was in the semi-final. The pattern seems to be that BBC One televise any victory ceremony that includes Team GB and I was desperately hoping he’d at least get a medal of any colour!
To get to Lee Valley, I had to catch a train from Tottenham Hale – and so did everyone else! I got asked a total of ten times whether the next train went to Lee Valley and I was so glad I’d already been there. The train was packed and it was impossible to get a seat, so I was glad the train only takes about five minutes.
When I arrived, the first thing on the agenda was lunch. The workforce break area had a lot more people in it than last time since the venue is now operational. There are many TV screens dotted around the place, and they happened to have the rowing on at the time. The atmosphere was one of excitement, since the Team GB rowers were doing really well and were miles ahead of the other teams – everyone was cheering them on. When they finally crossed the line in first position, the cheers were unbelievable – it was our first gold medal of 2012, and you could tell! Everybody just stopped everything they were doing and joined together in applause.
Added to this excitement, was the news from our co-ordinator that we could watch the semi-finals from the stands if we could find empty seats – there were plenty! It appears that there was a corporate booking of some sort, but nobody bothered to attend. It’s actually quite frustrating, knowing how sought after most Olympic tickets are, when you see such massive gaps.
The first four kayakers came on and it was all very exciting, but on came our hopeful – Richard Hounslow!
He was our hope of another medal… and he came in 6 seconds after Togo – not one of his best performances by a long shot. There goes my BBC One appearance!
After getting ready for the ceremony, we waited at the back for a while in our little white tent. We were completely unaware of what was going on and, for all I knew, Togo could have won. As it turns out, the winner was Daniele Molmenti of Italy. That’s who I was giving a medal to.
Shortly after, came the news that it was Molmenti’s birthday, and any disappointment that GB wasn’t there quickly dissipated when I realised that I’d be giving him one of the best birthday gifts he’d ever received!
We then arrived at that crucial moment; the ceremony itself. There were 15 minutes between the end of the final and the ceremony, and we knew about it thanks to a countdown from the Olympic Broadcasting Service (OBS). When the OBS eventually gave us our cue, we walked proudly onto the stage – this was our moment to shine, and I was certainly going to make the most of it.
In terms of the ceremony, we executed our shuffle elegantly, got our timings right and it was a very successful ceremony. Despite getting my timings correct, the presenter waited a while to applaud Molmenti for what seemed like an eternity. He did eventually come to give him his medal and wish him a happy birthday, as did the flower presenter. Looking back on the footage, either the wait was a lot shorter than I imagined, or it was cleverly cut to be shorter – I guess I’ll never know!
He did leave a little something behind after he got changed for the ceremony – it was a photo opportunity that couldn’t be missed! (We did give it back afterwards… begrudgingly!)
This was a moment I’ll never forget, the feeling you get when walking out is indescribable. In a sense, though, this was just a practice run; walking out in front of 15,000 people at Lee Valley in preparation for 90,000 at Wembley stadium – scary stuff!
For those who didn’t see the event, there is a video (that I happen to feature in) which can be found here: BBC Sport – Olympics canoeing: Italy’s Daniele Molmenti wins gold in K1 kayak. The results were as follows:
| Daniele Molmenti
| Vavřinec Hradílek
|| Czech Republic
| Hannes Aigner