BBC BLOGS - Anna Thompson’s Blog
« Previous | Main | Next »

Team GB get ready for Olympic action

Post categories:

Anna Thompson | 05:45 UK time, Friday, 12 February 2010

If Britain's Winter Olympians were unsure about the amount of support and exposure their medal exploits will attract, they were left in no doubt at a rousing reception held in their honour in downtown Vancouver on the eve of the Games.

There were the usual speeches, the announcement of the flagbearer and team captains and a meet and greet with HRH Princess Anne, the British Olympic Association president.

But a really nice touch was the fact more than 1,000 postcards of support have been collated from the worlds of sport, politics and entertainment, as well as the general public, to wish the athletes good luck as Britain aims for a record-breaking medal haul (the current record is four from the 1924 Games).

And 50 of the messages have found their way into a unique keepsake book, of which only 130 have been made for the 52 Winter Olympians and their coaches.

Formula 1 world champion Jenson Button wrote "wishing you all luck and I hope you reach your dreams" while multiple cycling gold medallist Sir Chris Hoy said: "Best of luck to you all - seize the chance to make your mark in history."

But I thought the sweetest - and the women's curling team agreed - were from schoolchildren who had taken the trouble to draw pictures and write to their heroes.

Shelley Rudman poses with a London taxiShelley Rudman will carry the flag for Great Britain at the opening ceremony sans taxi

British skeleton slider Kristan Bromley, whose fiancee Shelley Rudman will receive the original copies in recognition of being Britain's flagbearer at the opening ceremony, told me: "What a fantastic keepsake. A wonderful idea."

It was the brainchild of Hugh Chambers, the chief commercial officer at the BOA, who wanted the Winter Olympians not to feel like the second cousins of their summer counterparts and to show the level of support out there.

The reception, which featured a London black cab and a red Mini in the entrance to the posh hotel (there wasn't room for a double decker) as the BOA promoted the Best of British backing the Best of British, was really a chance to chat to the athletes when they are not in event mode.

Snowboarder Ben Kilner, who will compete in the halfpipe, looked awkward in his Team GB navy blue suit when he is more used to slouching around in jeans or his baggy boarding gear - and he was overwhelmed to meet Princess Anne, admitting he was unsure what to talk to her about and what the protocol was over asking her questions.

The short-track speed skating team were loving the occasion and prolific Tweeter Jon Eley (Jonnyboy77) wasted no time in telliing his followers: "Great night at the Team GB reception. Some really good support for all the team. Nice to see the future inlaws paul & sue @Sue7552 thanks!!"

For seasoned pro Bromley, who will be embarking on his third Winter Olympic campaign, he said the excitement was building.

"This is our job but there is no doubt the Winter Olympics are special and there is nothing like it in terms of getting amazing exposure for our sport. But when you come to things like this reception it is humbling."

They have had the emotion-stirring speeches and support - now it's down to them to deliver. Bring on the Games!


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.