Volunteer and Volunteer with Passion!
21 September 2016
Susan Liddle & Scott Milne have been in Rio volunteering as International Technical Officials at the Paralympics. Susan kept Scottish Swimming up to date and entertained with a daily blog.
Opening Ceremony & Day 1 on the job
It ended up being a very late night last night due to the opening ceremony, which was awesome to say the least. The noise level within the stadium was at times deafening but the quality of the whole thing was incredible.
Today was an up early day (6am transport collection) to get to the wee puddle called the Aquatic Centre and then final preparations to be made for the start of the competition. We all take a turn at the early start to assist the Technical and Assistant Delegates with the start of day preparations before we go onto poolside to be warm up marshals on the training and competition pools.
As we marched onto the deck and into our positions this has a major calming influence on us all as we are in the familiar territory and know what to do and what is expected.
The atmosphere was electric and gave me goose bumps on many an occasion both in the heats and finals. The moment Daniel Dias came home to claim the gold medal the whole place erupted, never mind the shouts of ‘BRASIL’ through his swim. It was a very proud moment for Daniel and a nation not to mention us all around the deck as even we got emotional.
There were probably a dozen world records broken today and it’s only the first day so we can only see this number climb considerably.
So! Scott and I are the odd mile or two from home and what happens today? A shout from the balcony and there is Paul Wilson from no other than Scottish Swimming - it really is a small world. I even think we spotted Forbes (Dunlop) in the stands.
At the debrief after the finals session Scott opened this with 'excellent session well done' this achieved a huge roar of approval - why you ask as this would be a normal choice of words? He spoke it in perfect Portuguese no less. Like we say always learning.
Another proud day as Scott was chosen to be one of the day's referees - A great honour indeed. This saw a very calm and professional Scott in complete control with eyes in the back of his head as in one instance when just about to start a heat he noticed that one of the swimmers who was ready and waiting for the signals still had his headphones on. The matter was dealt with to the delight and cheers of the crowd - Well done Hawkeye! Well done Scott you have made me proud! Oh and by the way you are writing tomorrow’s blog!
Day 7: The 37 degree heat today would have been wonderful on Copacabana beach but on a pool deck, maybe not the best - the bonus is there is plenty of water to drink (No! not the pool!)
We entered the 2nd week of competition today and much as the days can be very long depending on the shift you are on we all agree that time has flown by and taken us by surprise.
A lot of this I think is that we are all now very much a team and getting on really well and language isn't as much of a barrier anymore or nerves come to that.
Today saw a few disqualifications which just goes to show that no matter the level you swim at it can happen to anyone. Most people think that we only write a slip and that’s the end of things - sorry that’s not always the case, again dependent on the level being swum at the background paperwork after your hand the slip to the referee can be considerable.
On another note the up till now youngest referee at a Paralympics was 26 years old so that now means Scott Milne takes this crown.
Day 8: so we have day 8 of the escapade in Rio and the end of day 6 of the swimming. Today it was 37 degrees outside with a warm breeze and that was good as we took a stroll round the Olympic park and went to see the wheelchair fencing and Goalball.
The bad news about the weather was that the pool deck was also 37 degrees which for the officials on duty in full formal gear including blazer meant baking hot and rather a large amount of bottles of water. As the building is open as what you see is just a skin for the outside there were occasions when there was a very welcome breeze that blew through. Quick walk round the training pool found us bumping into none other than Kris Gilchrist - I mean you just can’t get away can you! lol
Day 9 saw a rather cooler day than yesterday - we only had to cope with 25 degrees outside and 29 degrees on the pool deck.
The coolest place in the whole complex is actually the training/ swim down pool. We, as ITO's, have to take rotation as warm up marshals on both the competition and training pool - guess where everybody wants to be allocated to?!
The atmosphere in this part of the arena is very relaxed and friendly AND extremely spacious with teams having their own allocated parts of the deck to themselves with their own ice baths etc. being on one side and the team seating etc. on the other – really very civilised.
When we were coming back to the village the Brazilian relay team (silver medallists) were travelling with us and there was a unanimous shout from the whole bus for PIZZA and that it had to be pepperoni. Nice to see that even medal winners like to eat takeaway food!
Day 11. Today is the 11th day of the Rio ramble and if I’m being honest I had to count it back to find out how long Scott and I had been here, as the days have blended into one another as nobody does anything fast here, apart from when driving.
I am sitting writing this at 11pm in bed eating chocolate pudding!
Swimming is the biggest event in the Games as we are on for 10 days. With heats in the morning and finals in the evening this makes for a long day and a late finish where we normally head straight to the restaurant, which is bigger than an aircraft hangar! And you can just go help yourself to whatever you fancy as there is an extensive menu. Have to say though I am not a great pizza lover but the ones here are fabulous.
Was hoping to get into the Megastore today for a wee bit shopping - took one look at the mega queue and went 'Na, not today’ maybe try again tomorrow.
The sun was not streaming through the window today, it was almost like being at home, cloudy with a hint of rain though the temperature gave it away that we were not at home - a nice 22 degrees.
I decided to skip brekkie and stayin bed for an extra 15 minutes - best decision of the day.
Official photo day today so two lots of gear needed - wear one and take one. There were some really fast changes from casual to formal uniform for the photos - hope they turn out well - I really don’t do photos , though will confess have taken a few selfies (first for everything).
Everyone is very relaxed in each other’s company and although it’s the final day tomorrow and home is calling loudly, it really feels a shame to break up what is a very happy and gelled team of good officials.
Have to laugh (hee hee hee) the queue at McDonalds is getting longer and longer by the day. At the beginning of the event there was very little queuing if any now it’s massive - see everyone needs a McDonalds in their life once in a while.
One thing I am looking forward to is a coffee! Those of you out there that know me know this is a staple for me and I’ve not even had one since I have been here - HA I hear you cry not had coffee and you are in Brazil?!
Well that’s it, last race swam and victory ceremonies done.
Words do no justice to the friendships made over the past weeks with people from all over the world and their dedication to what can be a very demanding role. People need to remember that without volunteers with passion most events large or small would not go ahead.
I have used the word proud quite a few times and should really find another word that portrays how the British contingent of athletes has made me feel. Their heats and finals saw them give everything they had and each and every one of them no matter their placing gave a huge smile.
There are a few specific ones that stand out a mile for me personally as from my position in the control room i had full view of the finish and then all the high speed and television cameras around me, these include Scott Quin, Ellie Robinson and Abby Kane.
So the end, or so we thought - well not quite, we had the sports presentation volunteers 'Flash Mob' us which was obviously well rehearsed and caused utter chaos - complete legends!
The after party saw the pool stripped down and invaded by the volunteers and this includes our own Scott Milne who can now say that he has also swam in the Rio pool as well as his lesser known brother Stephen! Hee hee!
Many a photo has been taken but you will just have to wait until I get back to see these as I am sure there will be some duds and you are not getting to see these - hey I have standards too you know!
There is still a lot to say (unlike me, I know!), so I may just do a few more blogs to give you more information - though I do hope I haven’t bored you all with my ramblings.