IAAF World Championships Report – Stephen Parsons

IAAF –World Championships – The Pink Hero’s in Hero Village.

20170723_110309After a very quick 10 days at home following the IPC World Championships and all the experiences then I was back on my way to London for another 7 days at the IAAF world Athletics Championships. A new experience this time using the AirBnB website for accommodation (I would advise this website but try and do research on the room first) in the Stratford area this was a big help for me being within walking distance of the stadium. The pink uniform was again in full force.

I traveled down to London excited to again be part of the Hero Village and was looking forward to the activities and crowd engagement we would be expecting over the Championship. An early start on the Saturday morning was welcomed by the sunshine and large crowds heading towards the stadium. The role allocation for the volunteers for the whole championships was different to the IPC as there were more volunteers for the village. This meant that I was assigned to the sponsor’s area for all but two of the days.

Saturday I was working in the welcome area to the village and explaining everything that was on offer to the spectators including the sponsors and the activity zone. During the afternoon I was talking to a member of the public before being interrupted and made aware of one of the marquees was being blown across the yard. I gathered another volunteer and grabbed a hold of the inflatable marquee just before it crashed in to a full gazeebo of spectators. We were able to hold the inflatable down until the site manager was found and additional weights where tied to the structure and the side taken off so the wind was not billowing the marquee around. Whilst holding the marquee down the wind also brought the rain and thunder and lightning quickly followed this was not end of the rain this week.

Sunday and Mondays volunteering sessions followed similar patterns as an afternoon shift meant that I as welcoming ques and ques of people in to the village for the first 2 and half hours on each day. The spectators would be heading in to the stadium from 5pm most days so we would remain busy until around 6:30pm  and then people would trickle in to the village to see what was on offer from the sponsors if they did not have a ticket for the evening event.

One of the main issues on Sunday was the appearance of the event mascot Hero the Hedgehog this meant that a new que developed straight in front of the entrance to the village and blocked the path towards the activity area. This was quickly rectified with the introduction of the pink dance line dance where myself and few other volunteers re positioned the que to allow all spectators a route in and around the village. Dancing was a popular activity amongst the Hero Village volunteers mainly to stay warm but it also become a way of entertaining the crowds. Monday afternoon saw me escape from the village to the stadium entrance again in a promotional push of the Hero village and answering many questions outside of my Hero Village remit.20170723_110644

Monday evening also resulted in a trip into the stadium to see the women’s 1500meters race amongst over events the noise on the final lap as Laura Muir and Laura Weightman chased medals is something that I will remember forever.

Tuesday saw a change in allocated role into the wheelchair trail area however this was short lived as the rain quickly came and marked the track as unsafe so I was back in the sponsor and welcoming area and dancing and smiling. It was amazing at these championships to see all the familiar faces that had come to not only the IAAF but also the Para champions was some that I was very happy to see and some even recognised me from the Para Champions.

Wet Wednesday followed, now if the soaked Saturday had taught me anything at then Para Championships is was that people in Britain will quite happily que and wait for something even in torrential rain. The fell on Wednesday from the middle of the night until the early hours of Thursday morning and this did not dampen the spirit and enthusiasm within the Hero Village volunteers and the spectators who came to visit.

Again the wheelchair area was unsafe and the long jump area was closed due to unsafe ground but all other areas and activities where open at the point the gates opened there was around 100 people queing to get in to the village all with smiley faces and excited to see the athletics that evening one couple commented that they felt if the volunteers where so happy and welcoming then they would be happy and just enjoy their day anyway despite the rain. And boy did it rain. A new DJ on the campervan decks had come well prepared for the weather with a set list including Umbrella, Wet Wet Wet, why does always rain on me and singing in the rain. This just encouraged the volunteers to dance and laugh even more than normal, it was the only way to stay way at times.

Thursday was a welcome relief not only from the rain but also my only day off in the Championships  as I would be ending my volunteer experience on the Friday. I used the day off to do a little bit of sightseeing in and around London, including the O2, Tower of London, St Paul’s Cathedral and the Houses of Parliament.

With a hint of disappointment Friday morning came and it was time for my London 2017 Summer of Sport experience to end. I was allocated the Sprint pod for the morning shift and this was a nice return to the activity zone where my World Championship experience had begun 28 days earlier in the activity zones with the reaction wall.

The Friday morning summed up the whole IPC World Para and IAAF World Championships for me, there was lots of smiles, lots of dancing, new friends, people challenging perceptions and lots and lots of high fives. Over the 7 days I averaged 19,500 steps a day, approximately 7 bottles of water a day and a fantastic volunteer experience.

A small number of the ‘Runners’ did not have as an enjoyable experience as I had and this is a little disappointing for me because I only have positives from the two Championships. Yes there were some issues with the uniform for some volunteers and some volunteers where changed roles at the last minute or told they were no longer required. However this was not the experiences I had, there some teething issues with the allocations of breaks and the number of volunteers in each area.

London will always been a great memory for me in terms of my volunteering experience and the IPC and IAAF World Championship have only enhanced that and given me more drive and ambition to volunteer at more event both locally, nationally and international.