Games Makers’ memories

Bryan Acford
Bryan Acford

MEET the man who put out the blocks for Usain Bolt’s 100 metres!

Bryan Acford spent six days as a Games Maker in the Olympic stadium as part of a nine-man team setting up the blocks for all the sprint races, writes Zoe Ashton.

And his claim to fame was that he just happened to set up lane number 7 for that momentous final which saw Bolt win the first of this three gold medals in London 2012.

As an official at Rugby & Northampton AC for more than 20 years, Bryan is well used to working at athletics meetings - the only difference this time was that the stadium was full of 80,000 people and the world’s best athletes!

“Walking into the stadium there definitely was a wow factor and it was surreal at times,” he said.

“The athletes all walked past us as they came out to the track and you could see what they were like pre-race and afterwards.

“Bolt gives a lot of himself, he never refused an interview. He went right down the line speaking to press from every country and spoke to everyone who wanted to speak to him.

“They were long days, with a lot of standing around and I’ve heard a lot of national anthems - but it was an enormous privilege to be there.

“Everyone seems to think Britain did a great job and I thoroughly enjoyed it.”

Bryan, an IT manager at Alstom, likened his team to stage hands in the show, getting everything in place and out of the way at the right time.

He was impressed by the huge attention to detail in the stadium - and the efficiency of the whole Olympic operation from the transport to the endless cheerfulness of all the Games Makers outside.

“The noise and atmosphere in the stadium you just didn’t get a feel for on television - the way the sound level rose up every time a British athlete was on the track and the way the crowd encouraged every athlete whether they were first or last. The support was constant throughout, trying to lift them up.”

Among his highlights Bryan says the relays on Friday evening were the most exciting, especially as he was so close to the action and the waiting athletes.

“And when the girl from Saudi Arabia finished last over 800m, just to see the respect she was given support and respect throughout by the whole stadium. But the real highlight was just being there.”