Meet the volunteers who helped to make the London 2012 Olympic Games a success.

George Hoy

Volunteer at Olympic stadium athletics

George, a 16-year-old schoolboy, has perhaps the best gift any volunteer could receive: Usain Bolt’s cap.

George was assigned as Bolt’s 'box carrier’ at a heat for the 200m on Tuesday. George’s task was to carry out a box into which Bolt puts his tracksuit and other items before competing. The volunteers pick lots to see which athlete they are assigned and George picked Bolt.

“He came out and he had a big rucksack on and he said to me 'what’s up’ and he put his rucksack in my box,” he said.

“He was getting his blocks ready and warming up and as he came up to me, he gave me 'knuckles’ — our hands tapped each others and then as he stripping to his running kit, I said: 'I like your hat’ and he said: 'Would you like it?’

“I replied: 'yes please’. He handed it over there and then. And as he did so, the crowd went a bit mad because they saw him give it to me.”

The cap, with Jamaica and London 2012 written on it, will now be framed and kept for ever. George, from South Woodford, in Essex, is a county standard, middle distance runner. His name was put forward by his coach at the start of the year and after a series of trials, George was selected for the volunteering team.

“Bolt was just really nice, really friendly. Like a normal person,” said George.

“I was lucky I got him in a heat. I think he would have been more focused in a final.”

Niki Fisher

Lifeguard at the aquatics centre

It may seem odd that the world’s best swimmers and divers need lifeguards. But the London 2012 pools are no different from leisure centres up and down the country. Events can’t take place without rescue swimmers at the ready.

Mr Fisher is one of a team of about 150 lifeguards on duty at the various aquatic pools used for diving, swimming and water polo. For him, it has been the greatest honour and vindication of years of training.

“Obviously they are world class athletes,” said Mr Fisher, “But there is always the potential for every eventuality.”

He is a duty manager at a leisure centre in Bexleyheath, south-east London, who built up days in lieu and added it to his annual leave to work at London 2012 for free.

Mr Fisher, 28, who lives in Eltham in south London, said: “I just really wanted to be part of the Olympics. Yesterday I turned up for my work shift at the leisure centre wearing my volunteer’s uniform and they went: 'wow. You are actually doing it. I can now say I am an Olympic lifeguard. That is special.”

Stefan Kunstmann

Volunteer at Weymouth with responsibility for VIP guests

Mr Kunstmann’s abiding memory of these Olympics will be the Duchess of Cambridge asking him where to find the tea bags and milk so she could make herself a cup of tea.

At the time the Duchess was aboard the 52-ft motorboat chartered by the Olympics organisers to allow VIPs the chance to witness the sailing at close quarters.

Mr Kunstmann’s role, unpaid of course, has been to look after the dignitaries and explain to them the rules of Olympic sailing and what is going on while they watch.

“The Duchess was incredibly nice and totally normal,” said Mr Kunstmann.

“She was not what you might expect. Kate even made her own tea. She asked me where to find certain things like milk. She didn’t ask me to get the teas in and that was really funny.” Prince Philip enjoyed his first day at sea so much he came back the next, while David Cameron, the Princess Royal and Ben Ainslie, the most successful Olympic sailor of all time, were also looked after by Mr Kunstmann, 33, who grew up in Germany but now lives in London.

A professional yachtsman, Mr Kunstmann worked at the games for three weeks unpaid. With the Duchess on board, a boat carrying photographers was getting too close and his job was to signal to the vessel to keep its distance.

“The Duchess joked that they were trying to get a bikini shot. I had to laugh about that.”

Helen Flooks

Assistant to the South Korean team Mrs Flooks, 51, has been cheering every gold. But not those won by Team GB but by the Koreans instead. She has been assigned to the Korean Olympic committee, assisting them despite speaking no Korean.

“The best thing is I feel like part of the Korean team,” said Mrs Flooks, from Rode near Bath, who has left her husband at home while she volunteers in London.

“They are so nice and welcoming and friendly. I am learning all about their culture. I’m not really interested in Team GB. Even when Team GB was winning all the golds,, I just wanted Korea to win.”

She has made friends for life and her favourite moment was being presented with an honorary Korean team track suit which she is “really proud to wear” — although not during working hours when she must don her volunteer uniform.

Mrs Flooks has always been keen on sport and she and her husband run a specialist company dealing involved in cycle racing. She has taken time off from work to help out for free, immersing herself in Korean culture and enjoying the specially brought in Korean version of the Pot Noodle, which athletes and officials alike prefer.

Emma Sulley

Volunteer physiotherapist at the aquatics centre

Miss Sulley, who lives in Australia, flew half way round the world at a cost of about £1,000, paid out of her own pocket, to volunteer for the Games.

A trained physiotherapist, her primary role has been to dispense treatment to the one hundred or so teams at the Olympics who cannot afford to bring their own medical back up.

In all, there have been about 1,500 volunteer physios and medics across the Games. She gives massages and sorts out soft tissue injuries, preparing athletes before and after competition.

Miss Sulley, 34, from Perth, signed up for the Games three years ago but quit the UK in January to return home only to come back again.

“My favourite moment was being asked to treat the Team GB water polo team.

It was such an honour.”

Marie Johnson

Volunteer at the Olympic stadium looking after the athletes

Ms Johnson, who lives in Hackney — one of the Olympic boroughs — didn’t want to watch the games on television and didn’t want to be a 'bit part’ player.

A former England schools sprinter, the 53-year-old took two weeks off work as a family therapist , she was desperate to help. She has spent the past week guiding the athletes from the warm-up track and into the stadium to compete.

Two volunteers are assigned to each athlete and a complex process is gone through from first call on the warm-up track to final call beneath the stadium.

The timetable of events is precision run and the volunteers play a critical role in getting the athletes into the stadium with the correct numbers on and sorting out any last minute problems, such as escorting them to the toilets before competition.

Her highlight is escorting Jessica Ennis into the stadium on the night she won gold while her abiding memory is the moment Usain Bolt gave a young volunteer his cap.

“As Usain was stripping off to compete, he took off his hat and gave it to this young person. The boy was grinning from ear to ear.”

Carol Gordon

Ms Gordon, 50, has been involved in coaching volleyball — the indoor variety rather than the beach one — at a national level for almost a quarter of a century and jumped at the chance to volunteer for the Games.

It has been her dream come true and she hopes that British volleyball can use this as a springboard for future success.

Based at Earl’s Court, Ms Gordon’s role is to look after the athletes, learning all the time from the world’s best and hoping to transfer some of that knowledge when she returns to her unpaid day job as coach of England’s under-16 volleyball squad.

Ms Gordon, who lives in London and is about to start a new job at an elite sports academy on the south coast, said: “I meet and greet the athletes and we look after them from the moment they arrive. The highlight for me was meeting the world’s best volleyball player Kim Yeon-koung. She is a phenomenal all round player.”

By Robert Mendick


Usain Bolt said he had “no respect” for Carl Lewis, the man whose Olympic feats he eclipsed with victory in the 200m, saying the American’s recent comments on doping were attention-seeking.

Bolt targeted the former Olympic 100m and 200m champion after becoming the first man to retain the double sprint titles with another scintillating performance in the 200m final.

The Jamaican was referring to recent comments from Lewis, who he said had appeared to question the validity of his achievements.

“I want to say that I have no respect for Carl Lewis. It is looking for attention, for an athlete out of the sport to be saying things is really upsetting," said Bolt. "He was talking about doping and for me he was just looking for attention.”

Bolt had earlier declared himself the greatest athlete of all time after winning the 200m to retain both short sprints, something Lewis did not achieve in his prime.

Bolt led a Jamaican clean-sweep of the medals, with Yohan Blake collecting his second silver medal of the Games, and former hurdler Warren Weir taking bronze in a personal best of 19.84sec.

Bolt’s winning time of 19.32sec was the joint fourth-fastest of all time and matched the time clocked by Michael Johnson in Atlanta in 1996. Bolt said he managed to equal it despite having a bad back.

Asked if the Jamaican track team were drug-free, Bolt insisted that they were running clean. He also dismissed comments from Victor Conte, suggesting that 60% of the athletes in London are doping, and criticised Carl Lewis for hinting that his success may not be as it seems.

“It is really annoying when people on the sidelines say stupid stuff. If you want attention then go and do something. A lot of the people who are trying to taint our sport, like Lewis, people don’t even remember who they are.

“Without a doubt we are drug-free. We train hard. I see us all train together, we throw up every day, we take ice baths, we end up flat out on the track. When people taint us it is really hard but we are trying our best to show the world that we are running clean.”

"It's what I came here to do. I'm now a legend, I'm also the greatest athlete to live. I am in the same category as Michael Johnson. I'm honoured."

He added: “The world record was possible when I came off the corner but I guess I wasn’t fit enough. I was fast but not fit enough, I could feel the strain on my back so I tried to keep my form and keep going.

“It is hard for me, I really dedicate to my work, I know what London meant to me, and I gave it my all. I gave it my best it was hard I really wanted to break the world record and tried but just not fit enough.

In 2008 double Olympic champion Lewis said: "I'm still working with the fact that he [Bolt] dropped from 10-flat to 9.6sec in one year. I think there are some issues. I'm proud of America right now because we have the best random and most comprehensive drug testing program.

"Countries like Jamaica do not have a random program, so they can go months without being tested. I'm not saying anyone is on anything, but everyone needs to be on a level playing field."

Only Blake and Bolt have run quicker than Bolt's 200m time, but the young pretender had no answer to his mentor, who was more relaxed than ever before the race.

He chatted with a volunteer as the athletes emerged, then fist bumped her colleague who stood behind his blocks. When he was introduced to the crowd he executed a slow royal wave, a stunt dreamt up before the race.

He was all business when the gun went however, getting a smart start by his standards and galloping into a decisive lead around the turn.

With the field beaten it was between Bolt and Blake, and with 70m to run the younger man tried to close, but the champion stretched again, held off his rival and cruised across the line, easing up slightly as he achieved the “double-double” he set as his London goal.

“It is the one I wanted and I got it, and I am very proud of myself,” Bolt said. “I had a tough season but I came here and did what I had to do.”

In the photo-finish picture, the first part of his body that broke the line was the finger he had raised to his lips. After the race he ran through the full range of antics, including press-ups on the finish line – an idea from his friends – and grabbed a camera to take pictures of his team-mates.

Bolt said he intended to rest before the relay and then celebrate properly at the weekend. “On Saturday I am going to celebrate like it is my birthday.”

Asked about the achievement of three men from the same track club sweeping the medals - all three train with Glen Mills at the Racers Track Club in Kingston - Bolt said: "It's wonderful. Jamaica has proven that we are the greatest sprint country. I've got nothing left to prove. I've showed the world I'm the best and, right now, I just want to enjoy myself."

By Paul Kelso


Amid the incredible Mo and Bolt show on the final day of the glorious Olympic athletics track programme, it was easy to overlook another quite extraordinary happening in the Olympic Stadium.

Sandwiched between Mo Farah annexing the 5,000 metres so gloriously and Usain Bolt landing his third gold of the meeting – and a world record – in the sprint relay, a 19-year-old kid called Keshorn Walcott was busy showing us why athletics remains the one Olympic sport with a true global reach.

Here was a teenager from a little Caribbean island with no heritage in the throwing events becoming the youngest ever javelin winner in the history of the Games. Cricketing geniuses like Brian Lara, yes. The odd dazzling footballer like Dwight Yorke, too. Or a one-off champion sprinter like the 1976 100 metres king Hasely Crawford. But a Trinidadian javelin thrower? Now we were in the realms of ‘cool chuckings’ fantasy.

Then Keshorn told his amazing story. About how he had been no good at sprinting or triple jump so had started off hurling bamboo sticks around on the beaches near his home and then graduated to throwing a javelin for fun with his cousins on an old school field. About how he had no proper facilities to train so ended up having to make the regular slog to Port of Spain just to learn his trade.

Yet within four years, even though he never believed he could win here, he had beaten all the powerhouses from the European javelin strongholds and sent Trinidad into such sheer delight that Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar announced Monday as a national holiday.

Keshorn’s fairytale seemed to sum up what a magnificent, surprising championships London 2012 was treated to in the Olympic Stadium.

As Lord Coe hailed it as the best week of track and field he had ever watched, it really did feel as if athletics, a sport which has been struggling for so long to keep its head above water, embroiled in doping scandals and losing its credibility in the eyes of an increasingly underwhelmed public, was making a stirring comeback, grabbing back its rightful place on centre stage as the premier Olympic attraction.

You could easily convince yourselves that the Olympic titles, earned amid 80,000 ecstatic cheers by Farah, Jessica Ennis and Greg Rutherford in a fantasy 44 minutes, were the biggest prizes any British athlete carried off during the fortnight simply because of the sheer bewildering spread of competition in athletics.

For, extraordinarily, no fewer than 41 different countries won medals in athletics at these Games, including 23 which struck gold. In comparison, only 19 countries won medals in the swimming pool and 18 in the rowing at Dorney. This illustrates that, along with football (which was not being played for the game’s ultimate prize here at the Olympics) athletics is still the great democracy of world sport.

It was the one event in London where you could find yourself being beaten for gold by anyone. By a Trinidadian javelin thrower. Or a men’s 4 x 400m relay squad from the Bahamas. Or a woman triple jumper from Kazakhstan. Or a male race walker from China.

Over 11,500 miles, from New Zealand’s Valerie Adams in the shot (promoted “speechless” to gold after the doping disqualification of Belarussian champion Nadzeya Ostapchuk) to Algeria’s 1500m champion Taoufik Makhloufi, you could find athletes from 70 nations stretching far over all five continents either in a final or in the top eight.

So when Coe called Farah’s double triumph “an achievement of extraordinary magnitude”, he was not kidding.

The whole world runs distance races; no less than 15 men have sped under 13 minutes for 5,000m alone this season while another 30 have cracked a brutal 27min 30sec for 10,000. That is a measure of how tough it was for Farah.

When you have stellar performances, like David Rudisha’s sublime 800m world record, teenager Kirani James’s one-lap demonstration and Bolt’s golden treble, added to such tours de force from the home stars, you have a recipe, completed by stirring in 80,000 fans a day, which athletics would kill to find again.

“It’s got to be built on,” said Coe, who should take the reins of the International Association of Athletics Federations after Lamine Diack’s retirement. “This should be our template. That when we present track and field well, it can be, in the eyes of the public, as exciting and competitive as any other sport. I think what we have done here is fulfil the potential of track and field.”

London, from British sporting folklore to Trindidadian fairytales, has led the way. Now the IAAF must surely follow the dream weaver Coe.

By Ian Chadband, Chief Sports Correspondent


Caster Semenya has insisted she was racing flat out for gold after finishing second in the 800 metres at the Olympic Stadium on Saturday.

BBC pundit Colin Jackson suggested the 21 year-old South African might have been reluctant to cause another media storm by winning, having been thrust into the spotlight at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin when a row over her gender overshadowed her victory.

Semenya ran a bizarre race at the Olympic Stadium, staying at the back of the field for the whole first circuit before finishing strongly to win silver in 1min 57.23sec.

She left her kick far too late to catch Russia's Mariya Savinova, who was away and gone down the home straight to win in 1-56.19.

But the former world champion, who underwent gender tests after her Berlin win, claimed she just got her tactics wrong.

"The plan was to win gold," she said "Unfortunately I made a wrong move and it was too late to kick.

"I am very happy with silver. I just have to work hard over the next four years to win in Rio because every athlete's goal is to win a gold medal.

"The plan was to win gold, but I am happy at my first Olympics to be on the podium. I am still young. If I focus on training hard I can achieve more.

"You learn by mistakes and next time we'll do better. I tried hard to get back there, but the body wasn't really on fire today. I had to fight until the end.

"I see a pretty good future for me. The most important thing is to train, I just have to focus on my career and forget about the past."

Savinova, who beat Semenya to the world title last year, was also surprised by how Semenya ran her race.

"She (Savinova) told me I did a good job, but why did I move so late," said Semenya.

"She was expecting more of me after the semi-final. But you never know what's going to happen in a race."

By Telegraph Sport



AS the nation celebrates the success of gold medal Olympian, 19-year-old Keshorn Walcott, another teenager has promised to work hard to secure a medal when she competes at the London 2012 Paralympics later this month.

Physically challenged national swimmer Shanntol Ince will be competing in the 400-metre freestyle, 100-metre butterfly, and 100-metre backstroke events.

Shanntol, the Express Individual of the Year 2011, was born with a right leg significantly shorter than the left, but has astounded many by excelling in the pool.

The 17-year-old created history by becoming the country's first Paralympic athlete to compete at last year's Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, India.

She also won bronze medals at the Parapan Games held in Guadalajara, Mexico last November in the 100m backstroke and 100m freestyle.

Ince has also excelled at academics, passing all the subjects she wrote for the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examination this year.

Ince, of Claxton Bay, is also an ambassador in the Ministry of the People and Social Development Disability Programme where she is chosen to act as a spokesperson for persons with disabilities.

The Paralympics is held immediately following the Olympics and involves athletes with physical disabilities, including those with mobility and visual impairment, and amputees.

Ince told the Express yesterday that it was exciting and nerve-racking to have seen the athletes compete in the Olympics, and she was inspired by each effort.

She said Walcott's gold medal javelin throw "was pretty amazing to me".

Ince, who spoke with the Express from her home yesterday, said, "words can't describe how I feel right now. I feel very excited and nervous.

But I am prepared. I have been training hard. I will try my best. I am going to do my best.

Yes I am looking for gold but that is not my main focus. My main focus is to be the best I can, and not try to put too much pressure on myself because I can get really nervous at times, especially while waiting."

The last time this country won precious metal was at the New York 1984 Paralympics.

In that year, Rachael Marshall, whose hometown is Toco, won two gold medals in javelin throw and shot put, and a bronze in the 100 metres freestyle in swimming.

Marshall is the only Trinidad and Tobago national to win medals at the Paralympics the two times this country participated. This year will be the third time the country is participating in the Paralympics, and the first in 24 years.

Ince said she had increased her training from two hours, six days a week, to training for four hours on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays in addition to the two hours on the other days.

She trains with the Marlins Swim Club with sessions at the 50 metre pool at St Anthony's College in Westmoorings. The one other Paralympic athlete competing in London is visually impaired Carlos Greene, in the shot put and discus throwing events.

The two athletes leave for the competition on August 24 and return on September 11.

The games officially begin on August 27 and end on September 9.

Five persons will accompany the athletes on the journey, among them president of Trinidad and Tobago Paralympics Committee, Kenneth McKell, his wife Debra McKell who is the Committee's administrative officer, and coaches Franz Huggins and Lester Osouna.

Ince's father St Paul Ince said although he would not be able to travel to London to be with his daughter, he would be watching every event on television.

He added, "It is indeed and honour for her to be able to reach that far."

By Sue-Ann Wayow