Call: 01252 723398

Memories of 2012

Just after the London 2012 Olympics John was interviewed for his company magazine about his experiences as one of the team of Statisticians at the indoor Volleyball tournament at Earls Court.

1. As you look back on your Olympics experience, what are the two or three most memorable 

moments that have stayed with you?

I was lucky enough to have a ticket for the Opening Ceremony which in itself was an astonishing event 

but the entry into the stadium of Team GB to David Bowies song “Heros” brought a lump to the throat. 

You can only imagine how the athletes must have felt walking around the stadium being showered in gold 

confetti and 80,000 people going crazy.

My role at the Olympics was as a statistician at the Indoor Volleyball, this was literally the best seat in the 

house, sat just behind that “advertising” boards at the end of the court. Our job was to log and rate 

EVERY touch of the ball during a rally, one person watched the game and called every touch while 

another entered the data on a touch screen. Days were long with the first match starting at 9:30 in the 

morning and the last match finishing after midnight on most days. At the end of it all I was fortunate 

enough to be selected to work at the womens final, even though we had headphones on the noise was so 

loud that at times we couldn't’t hear each other.

What will stick in my mind was just how friendly everyone was in London, for a few weeks some form of 

Olympic magic dust descended on the country.

2. What are some of the things you learned from your Olympics experience -- for example, about 

excellence, competition, results -- that you can apply in some way to your work ?

One of the things that struck me was the scale of the whole event and at the same time the attention to 

detail. Of course the Olympics are huge; everyone knows that, but everything from the industrial scale 

operation of collecting our uniforms right down to the zealous protection of the Olympic partner brands – 

for example every one of the “pixel” units at the Olympic stadium had the manufacturers name blanked 

out - the thought and planning that went every aspect of it was astounding.

I remember coming out of the Olympic park, two of the games makers who were directing spectators 

were performing an impromptu version of Summer Nights from Grease from either side of the walkway to 

entertain the queuing spectators. I’m sure nobody specifically told them to do that, they would have been 

given a general instruction for their role (get spectators in and out of the Olympic Park in safety) and left 

alone to figure out the best way of doing it (happy & singing spectators don’t cause crushes). The 

success of the games was in many ways down to the Games Makers, the organizers invested a lot of 

time and money in not only training them but also involving them in the whole ethos of the games, so like 

the two singers at the Olympic Park when given the chance, they simply “got it”. 

I was told after the first week the typical retention rate of volunteers at previous Olympics was around 80-

85%, in London it was around 96%. The organizers had done a great job at motivating and sharing a 

common purpose and vision with a huge number of people from all sorts of backgrounds and had got 

them all play their part.

3. Very few people get the opportunity to watch world-class athletes up close. What surprised you 

or what did you find the most fascinating about how these athletes conduct themselves at this 

elite level of competition?

After unexpectedly losing in the quarter finals I was surprised at the difference in the losing team and their 

star player between the “Game Face” while playing and especially doing media interviews, then being 

uncontrollably distraught just moments later when out of the gaze of the public and media. The ability to 

“hold it all in” until they could reach a (relatively) private area when their true emotions came out certainly 

made an impression on me.

Again the attention to detail is fascinating, in addition to the job that we did in collecting statistics, primarily 

for the media. Each of the teams also had their own group of statisticians, Japan turned up with a 

suitcase full of equipment to record the match and instantly playback anything they had missed and 

communicate with the coaches on the team bench. 

4. Why did you initially decide to volunteer?

I have played volleyball for over 25 years and have been a coach for 20 years, I started doing statistics at 

national finals and GB matches for the past few years, so when London won the games I immediately 

signed up. I have found that it has helped my coaching as I am able to be much more objective in what I 

am seeing.