Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Living in Sydney in the noughties: Part 2

Right, so back to the 2000 Sydney Olympics. I was so delighted to be chosen to be a volunteer. My grandfather had represented Australia in the rowing at the 1948 London Olympics - this was the closest I'd get to having an Olympic experience! As the preparations started, my excitement mounted. I was fitted for my fetching uniform (now safely stored away for the children to have a giggle over and the jacket not worn since, which is more than I can say for some volunteers), had TAFE training and was given a free travel pass. Here I am, resplendent in all my (ahem!) glory.
All kitted out (and in yellow, no less, my least favourite colour)
Remember the thrill of watching the Opening Ceremony? I'm sure most of you could remember where you watched it. Having missed out in the ballot for tickets, like so many others, we attended an Olympic dress-up party with friends and cheered on Cathy Freeman lustily. Who could ever forget this moment?
Lighting the cauldron
Then the fun started. I was assigned to work in 'Spectator Services' at the Sydney Convention Centre at Darling Harbour where the boxing, weightlifting, fencing, judo and taekwondo took place. Each day, we were assigned different tasks such as assisting with the security checks (so basic in those pre-September 11 days), collecting tickets at the doors, roving around Tumbalong Park directing people to the venues, checking media accreditation before journalists entered the media hub and manning entrances to the competition areas.

I found the latter most challenging and even confronting. You see, I am a shorty (only 155 cm). When I was looking at the navel of a sweaty boxer with bloodied bandages on his hands who was yelling at me in Turkmen (I only knew because of his accreditation) and wanted to enter a forbidden zone with all his burly entourage, then being short suddenly seemed a problem. Not talking Turkmen was as well! Anyway, using international sign language (my hand held out in a stop sign and much head shaking) did the trick but it was stressful!
They got the message, eventually
They were long, tiring but exhilarating days. I really felt part of something big. Towards the end, some of the volunteers dropped out and the State government used paid State employees as 'volunteers' - it didn't go down well with all those who had donated paid leave to volunteer. Anyway, that minor issue aside, volunteering was a blast. Going to work in between shifts (we had 7 am starts and 3.30 pm finishes) and attending Olympic events, not to mention having my two siblings to stay and entertain, made for a crazy and memorable fortnight.
Enjoying the Closing Ceremony
It was capped off by our being given free tickets for the brilliant Closing Ceremony and the fabulous tickertape parade through the city streets. The latter was absolutely thrilling as we marched through the streets with Sydneysiders waving thank you posters and yelling out praise as the tickertape rained down on us from the offices above.
Yes, that's me!
The crowd was so warm and welcoming that I had goosebumps.
And thank you back!
There's not much left in the city of Sydney to remind us of the Games now. Most of the painted electric blue marathon line has been painted over as cyclists were slipping on it in the rain. The three striking wire mascots atop the Centrepoint Tower have been moved to Sydney Olympic Park. There's a sculpture at Darling Harbour and that's about it, which is a great shame, not to mention that the trains no longer run on time. Of course, Sydney Olympic Park has many permanent reminders including poles with the volunteers' names. It's fun to show my name to the pixies!

Next, I'll conclude this little series of musings on life in Sydney in the noughties.



  1. The jacket's great - I feel all nostalgic. I love how the Australian Olympic design-team were still doing those colours into the naughties when everyone else had retired them in '92 or so :-) Although I guess you can be a little more flamboyant when it's an event like the Olympics.

    Who were those lovely people with the thank you signs? That's such a nice thought.

  2. Oh, Nadiah, I did too, doing this post. It was in pre-digital days so I had to fish out my old photos and photograph them. So many memories came flooding back. Those people were in the crowd at the tickertape parade - the street was lined with people just like them. Talk about an adrenalin rush!

  3. oooh the trains running on time - how I missed that the week after the fanfare died down! back to being hopeless!! i love, love your gumboot pic in your header. there are not many things cuter than kiddie shoes all lined up! x

  4. You're right, Belinda - reality soon bit again. Remember people saying "Well, if they could get them to run on time for the Olympics, why can't we do it all the time?"? People seem to have just stopped asking that now. Sigh. Thanks - I love the way the colours pop. J x

  5. It was fabulous to hear your experience Jane. Mine was very different as I had literally just had our Olivia and did not get to any events or to be honest watch any, except for the opening ceremony on the TV. My husband was pretty happy about the trains running smoothly though, and he got a few days off work to boot! How fabulous that your were able to experience being a volunteer! I don't think I would have been able to deal with any huge boxer speaking Turkmen! Well done you:) ~ Tina x

  6. Thanks, Tina - you make me laugh :) J x

  7. I was a volunteer, too! And a yellow one to boot! I had such a great time, thanks for the reminder!

  8. Hi Sheridan Volunteers rule - my pleasure! I must dig out the book someone published about the volunteers after the Olympics - not sure if you saw it. It was called 'Sharing is caring', I think and some of us contributed. Something to show the pixies! J x

  9. Wow, I love it! I'm so glad you pointed me to this post. I would love to volunteer too, but impossible with my kiddos in tow. We have put our name in the hopper for sailing, beach volleyball, swimming, & track/field. I hope we 'win' tickets for something! That is so cool that your name is still on a post in Olympic Park - does it say 'Mrs LOPB'?XOL

  10. Hi Laura Did you get any tickets? And no, it says something else! J x


Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, you gorgeous soul. You've just made my day! J x

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