'Time of my life': Volunteering at the Olympics

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Volunteers will now be able to apply for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work for the London 2012 Olympic Games. Roles available to volunteers will range from ticket inspectors to uniform distributors.

Here, people who worked as volunteers in past Olympic Games share their experiences of volunteering for the world's biggest sporting event.

London 2012 volunteer roles open

Elisha Mullins, volunteered at Sydney 2000

Elisha Mullins Elisha Mullins back in 2000 with some of the medals

I was a volunteer at the Sydney Olympics 2000. I took part in the opening and closing ceremonies and the medal ceremonies too. It was the best time of my life.

I originally applied in 1993 before Australia won the bid. One year before the games started, we were notified that we had been accepted as volunteers. That's how I got into the ceremonies.

The medal ceremonies were quite different. I was working for a sports association in university and in 1999 the Olympics organisers opened the applications through sporting clubs. You also had to go through an interview process.

I have been reminiscing about the Olympics since we are about to celebrate the 10th anniversary. I especially remember the day before the opening ceremony. The torch relay had reached Sydney and it passed not far from where I was living.

We then went to watch the last people carrying the torch. We had flags and face paint and there was a free concert.

Start Quote

It was a combination of excitement, busy days and sleepless nights”

End Quote Elisha Mullins, Sydney

We stayed out all night because we wanted to witness the moment when Australian golfing great Greg Norman carried the torch on the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I got home at 0900, slept only two hours, and then had to go back to the Olympic park to get in for the security check.

All the athletes were marshalled into the same venues so for some hours there was a real camaraderie between us all. I don't think anyone got out before midnight, and then we had to wake up early the next day.

So from that point it was a combination of excitement, busy days and sleepless nights.

I still get goosebumps when I think of my experience. It was an amazing atmosphere and the day after the Olympics finished it felt like everyone had a massive hangover.

I have gone to two more Olympics. I volunteered for Athens but then decided to pull out when I decided that I would better enjoy it by going to the competitions.

Neus Blanch Esparbe, volunteered at Barcelona 1992

Neus Blanc in 1992 Neus Blanch assisted the Spanish delegation

I worked as an assistant for the Spanish delegation at the Olympic Village. We were recruited at university. The organisers came in a van and invited people to sign up at the back of it.

I was 25 years old and it was the best experience of my life. My very first job was to organise transport for the field hockey team.

I had to coordinate six vans with six different volunteer drivers who all wanted to take different routes, and make sure that no-one got lost.

After the Olympic games we all went our own separate ways and I lost track of most people because I went to Italy for work. But we have now met through a Facebook group.

It was still a challenge because it was difficult to recognise people by their picture and we didn't know any surnames - at the Village I was just "Neus from Spain" and my friend Jordi was "Jordi from Egypt" as he worked with the Egyptian delegation.

It's a massive change from 1992 when we were recruited in a van, to 2010 when volunteers will be recruited online.

More people will be able to participate, but they might have a problem selecting them.

Back in 1992 we went through many psychometric tests and we had to take many courses. We studied for more than two years, and if you failed to show up for one you would get deselected. A lot of people applied but not all of them got through.

Alex Ferizis, volunteered at Athens 2004

Alex Ferizis in 2004 Alex Ferizis met Nadia Comaneci while volunteering

I am Greek-Canadian. I was born and raised in Canada but moved some years ago to Greece with all my family.

I applied as soon as I came to Greece. I was never a big Olympics fan and was never very involved in sports, but I lived close to some of the venues and liked the idea.

It was the experience of a lifetime, I am glad I did it.

My job was to greet and take care of the VIP people at the softball stadium. We were a small group, around ten people.

You wouldn't think so, but we got to meet Prince Albert of Monaco and gymnast Nadia Comaneci.

Start Quote

This experience opened the door for me as it made volunteering a part of my life”

End Quote Alex Ferizis, Athens

But more importantly, it was more about being part of a huge team of volunteers.

Everyone felt part of something really special - we were putting Greece back on the map.

We were all very relieved to see that after all the delays everything was put together at the last minute.

This experience opened the door for me as it made volunteering a part of my life.

I take more initiative in helping people in my community. Greece is not like other countries, charity is not so organised as part of our lives. But this is changing slowly.

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