7 years ago was my first Games Maker shift

Seven years ago this afternoon was my first-ever volunteer shift at the Olympic Games – working at Stratford Gate getting people into the Stadium for a technical rehearsal of the opening ceremony. I remember it being a weird combination of excitement that it was all starting, fear at the sheer scale of what we were attempting, and worry that it was going to go wrong somehow. 

Of course, it didn’t go wrong at all. It turned out to be utterly brilliant and the best ever advertisement for this city and this country. There was hope and optimism and people were talking to strangers and they were smiling all the time. It was exciting, inspiring, thrilling and the community spirit was phenomenal. A real shared experience of everyone pulling together where we threw a huge party, invited people from all over the world and did our best to make sure they had a good time.

I miss those days. I miss them terribly. It breaks my heart to see just how far we have fallen in seven short years. From a country that stood proudly on the world stage and was applauded for “doing it right” to a country slinking off the stage as an example of exactly how not to do it. From a country that opened its doors to friends from around the planet to a country determined to slam that door, friendless, in the faces of everybody outside.

From inspiration to embarrassment, from leader to left-behind, from participant to pariah.

So sad. So very, very sad. Not least because we did this to ourselves.