A TEACHER from Portrush has just returned from London after being a’ Games Maker’ at the Olympic Games.
Stephen McConnell is a PE teacher at Limavady High School.
On Monday we spoke to Stephen who was still on a high after his Olympic experience.
“The Olympics is the biggest show on earth, and I was a tiny part of it,” told Stephen.
“I was involved with the anti doping team as a chaperone, stationed at the Olympic Stadium.”
During his three weeks, Stephen had to notify some of the world’s top athletes that they were required at doping control and stay with them until the testing had been completed. This meant Stephen shadowed the athletes at press conferences and at medal ceremonies, something that he will never forget.
“The athletes were all so down to earth. They made our job very simple.
“ It was very special to be able to share success with athletes from across the world.
“In the doping control area, you could have had athletes with medals around their necks and others who were disappointed about their performances - it was special to be able to share these emotions, good or bad with them.”
During his time as a Games Maker, Stephen had the privilege of seeing the rehearsal for the opening ceremony, something he described as a ‘turning point’ of the Games.
“It was really special to sit there and watch.
“I think the opening ceremony was a a real turning point.
“The hype around London was unreal after that Friday night.
“People were hanging out Team GB flags and getting their faces painted- it was really special.”
Stephen is hoping to apply to be a volunteer at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, but before that he’s hoping to inspire some of his pupils to get involved in sport when he returns to school later this week.
“Everyone keeps talking about how the Olympics will inspire the next generation, and I really hope it does.
“In the very short time I spent with some of these athletes their commitment and dedication was very clear - and I would like to teach this to my pupils.
“I spent time with one hurdler who had trained for four years to get to the Olympics, then he clipped the first hurdle, and his Olympics were over in seconds - but his attitude impressed me. He said that his mistake had only made him more determined to get to Rio - now that is dedication,” said Stephen.
Right: Stephen pictured in the Olympic Stadium.