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Diary of an Olympic Rowing volunteer

Karon Phillips is working as a volunteer for the Olympic organising committee and has kindly allowed us to … read more

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Karon Phillips is working as a volunteer for the Olympic organising committee and has kindly allowed us to share her “back-stage” insights into what it takes to run an important regatta.  You may know Karon as “New Wave UK”  and Rowperfect sells her Calf Skins to prevent slide bites on your calves.

July 25th

karon uniformGrandstands have come on a bit since last year! Seems they are expecting a few more people for the local regatta in a couple of weeks 😉
Weather – gorgeous – 25C (and its winter!)

There is a a Worldwide Volunteers meeting here on Wednesday 3rd August. It is a 4 minute walk from where I will be staying.

Felt like a schoolgirl, with my new uniform!

July 26th

karon lakeA bit of a mixed day. Beautiful sky this morning. Some good work in the Control Commission area – then lost the ‘zip-on’ part of my team issue bag (seems to be a design fault_ – containing Brazilian money wallet, couple of credit cards, about £25 worth of cash – and apartment keys 🙁
Luckily, my landlord had spare keys (and lucky I had his number in my phone!). Cancelled cards and went to meet friends for dinner – where I promptly lost another card. Seems I am not safe to be out on my own …….
Arrived home – to find missing part of bag had been returned to apartment block! Minus cash……hey ho!
Moral – dont use zip on part of bag for important stuff – and always send me out with a minder!

July 27th


Ive seen a luvverly bunch of coconuts! lala lalala! 
karon coconuts

Early morning delivery of coconuts to one of the lakeside stands I pass on my way to work at 5.30 in the morning!

Fresh cocunut milk, straight form the coconut, around £1.25 – very refreshing! Lots of leaves on the pavement – but they will all be swept away by sunrise.

On the free kit….
Aha! What I thought was a key ring is in fact a bottle holder, and also designed to clip the 2 parts of the bag together – as you can see hereKaron bag

July 28th

Today, we have been labelling up the boat racks, so crews know where their boat is to live for the next couple of weeks, and we have started to hand out the stickers which are applied by the Coaches to the side of the boat, showing the event, and the country code – such as GBR, NZL etc. Must say, they are very nice – and when you watch the racing, see the stickers – and think of me, as I sorted then all out, ready to give to the Team Managers, for the Coaches to apply to the boat. One small part of the many small details that go into an event.

July 29th

karon pieAnother cloudy (but warm) day – but

not wanting to ‘starve’ you (!) of news – here is my dinner tonight.
Food for the workers at the Rowing Venue is rather good – so no need to have big dinner.

Fortunately, there is a very nice bakery around the corner, so am trying out their chicken pie tonight!
Expect to be very busy tomorrow – lots more crews arriving – so lots more stickers to be given out, plus topping up the cold drink bins, and lots of other little tasks – like picking up the empty bottles of the cold drinks bottles which have been discarded – I must have handled some of these bottles several times!

Well – what can I say! Anyone who has ever had chicken pies from the chicken pie place in the outskirts of Johannesburg, will be extremely jealous to hear that THIS pie was even better than the Chicken Pie Farm – and it has only taken me nearly 40 years to find such a pie!
Buttery, flaky pastry – but not greasy, filled with tender chicken breast, and a little sauce to stop it being dry. A tad salty – but thats not a bad thing when it is hot here. Just needed a good drop of red wine – which I happened to have – to wash it down. I will sleep well tonight!
My pie is calling! Boa noite!

July 30th

With fellow Volunteer Caren Donnelly – can you guess where we are?
karon volunteerskaron quero

May I introduce you to Mrs Quero Quero! She and her husband (who seems to have gone off for food) have gone to rather extreme lengths to ensure a ‘birds eye view’ of the Rowing here.

Mrs Querro decided to set up home, and having laid 3 eggs, we are all eagerly awaiting the hatching. I can imagine the chicks may be called’ Gold’, ‘Silver’ and ‘Bronze’ depending on their order of arrival.

In addition to providing some protection, they have also been given joint Accreditation!

July 31st

Another busy day, with more athletes arriving.

One special moment – Peter Reed and Will Satch thanked me for being a Volunteer here. That was very special!karon openingkaron in stadium

Then – I was given a ticket to the Olympic Opening Ceremony Dress Rehearsal! Couple of pictures here – but none of the ceremony – don’t want to spoil it for you – but done with style, simplicity – and great Brazilian beat and joie de vivre (don’t know how to say that in Portuguese). I used the bus and the Metro system to get to Maracana Stadium – all very efficient – if a little crowded – but like a normal day in London Underground !

>Yet more crews arriving tomorrow – so need to get some shut-eye.

August 1st

karon drinkiesSunrise, sundowner, sunset!

Been a busy old day! Accuweather forecast winds of 6km/h – but it was clear, walking to the course this morning, that the forecast was a bit of a ‘wish’ rather than a given! Winds were, ahem, ‘gusting’ a bit……. so lake had to be closed until things settled down – which ended up being at 3pm….. (have to give a big thank you to a number of Launch drivers (Mark Blandford-Baker, Murray Litvak, and Martin Dawes) for their assistance in tough cond itions.

Mind you – the lack of athletes on the pontoons meant that cormorants, and their mates, spent considerable time on the pontoons, undoing all the good work the cleaners had done at 6am, making the pontoons nice and clean 🙁
Volunteers to the rescue! – with makeshift ‘buckets’, we made the outgoing pontoons pristine, ready for the athletes!

Despite the wind, lovely photo conditions – for the sunrise – then, not bad for the sundowner – and after a rather excellent caipirinha, who cares what the light is like …… but it looks like the sunset wasn’t bad either!

About Rebecca Caroe
Rebecca is the host of RowingChat podcast and is a masters athlete and coach. Passionate about helping others enjoy the sport as much as she does. View all posts from Rebecca Caroe

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