Friday 3 August 2012

London Games Maker 2012: a knight to remember

The view from the broadcast pen

Wow. What a night.

Last night was my first proper shift in the media scrum of the mixed zone and what a learning curve it was. Having worked test events previously I was prepared for mayhem and that’s exactly what I got.

Firstly we had our team briefing. I was assigned one of the broadcast areas. This means my role was to stand behind the camera of TV interviewers and take notes of what the athletes say. The slight issue with this is that you can’t get in camera shot at all, meaning shoving your Dictaphone is someone’s face is a complete no-no.

It was quite a fun start. Athletes didn’t stop in the qualifying rounds so we were able to watch the racing and soak it all up. American broadcaster NBC were quite amusing to observe. They were just focused on the stands, not the action. When I enquired what they were doing they informed me they were only there to film the royals in the crowd – they wasn’t interested in the sport! And then a man from the Golf Channel turned up. Only in America.

The french cable conundrum.
Good luck with that
The French were equally amusing. It seemed odd that there was an empty broadcast pen after the action had started. This was good for me as it gave me an opportunity to get into the pen to get a better shot at getting my quotes. But then they turned up. Late. It was highly amusing watching the cameraman wrestle with his cable spaghetti in time for the French athletes’ races.

Unfortunately the GB Women’s Sprint Team were demoted for an infringement in their semi final. This meant Victoria Pendleton came through the mixed zone a lot earlier than we were expecting. I therefore had to literally chase her down the mixed zone as she ping-ponged between broadcasters. Apparently she was in tears by the time she got to the press section.

I was then moved into the proper press scrum. Given the very humid temperature in the velodrome, let’s just say it’s a little, well, whiffy in there. Glamorous it is not.

I was assigned getting the Australian riders who came fourth in the Men’s Team Sprint. Nice – I get the athlete that has come in the worst place possible! But Shane Perkins from Australia was very generous in defeat, and it was quite amusing being assigned to him as I had a Twitter exchange with him only two days ago.

I was trying to annotate my notes while the British team were getting their gold medals so I missed that, but it has to be quotes first, spectate second. It’s hard, but you have to do it as we have a 15-minute deadline to file our quotes.

As the racing was finished I was told I could go back to the office to file my quotes, rather than phone them in. What a stroke of luck that turned out to be. As I was walking up the stairs there were Wills and Kate coming through from the stand. There didn’t seem anyone there to stop me or tell me the protocol, so I just acted like I hadn’t recognised them, let them through first and followed on after them.

Philip Hindes and Sir Chris Hoy talk to the media
Once I had filed my copy I was allowed to go and sit in on the press conferences. It was a real privilege to see Sir Chris Hoy give his thoughts on the race. At times I am pinching myself that this is happening and that I am actually doing this.

So, at last, I have seen a GB gold medal won. It was incredible – you really don’t get a sense of how loud the crowd is in the velodrome on TV – it is literally deafening. Great for spectators – not so great for us trying to collect quotes.

And that was only the first night. Tonight we have Victoria Pendleton in the Women’s Keirin and the Men’s Team Pursuit final. Can’t wait.

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