Reflections on the Games #5 by Peter Bakare
16 Aug 2012
By Peter Bakare, Team GB volleyball player at the London 2012 Olympic Games, supported by SportsAid in 2012 through the Lloyds TSB Local Heroes programme.
Stepping into the Olympic Village for the first time left me in wonder, seeing tower blocks with different flags of proud countries flying in the wind. On every corner you would see a different person from each nation, and that was just the tip of it all.
This was a home Olympics and these were the same streets I grew up in. The Olympic Village has the same post code, but it's a different world.
What made it all the more eerie was training. The venue was literally in my own street and travelling through Canning Town before the Games gave me such a buzz of nostalgia. I had trained so hard away from home to come back and do it all over again - but this time with the Team GB emblem stitched onto my chest.
In the village the food was amazing. You name it, they had it. Think of it, they had already cooked it. But that wasn’t even the best thing about the food hall. Walking around you were the greatest athletes in the world in their discipline and sport. I would see a volleyball legend and be blown away, but at the same time no one noticed them. I could be asking a three-time Olympic champion to pass a napkin!
Onto game day. After my pre-match playlist I would spend my time warming up as usual, although I didn't really need it since the adrenaline and rush made for a perfect cocktail, strong enough to send me pogo hopping!
Then we lined up and walked down the tunnel with some of the best players in the word beside us. You had to ignore it all and size yourself up. Yesterday I had admiration for you but tonight, you’re my opponent, I thought to myself. Time seemed to slow and just before coming out onto the court, the support of the nation and the whole experience was brought home to me by the thunder of the GB fans.
As SportsAid’s patron, Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge is helping to shine a light on the achievements and potential of young athletes throughout the UK – an inspiring generation who one day hope to represent the nation at the Olympic or Paralympic Games. SportsAid alumnus Sir Chris Hoy welcomed the patronage by saying, “SportsAid played an important role when I was starting out so I know what a huge boost this will be to the young sportsmen and women the charity helps today. As patron Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge will give them the profile they deserve.”