Any athlete will tell you that besides the sense of achievement after your race you want your medal and t-shirt aka bragging rights. What is the point in training and pushing yourself to the limit if you have nothing to show for it? Kit accrued and then worn at other races can also intimidate fellow competitors.
At the London 2012 Olympics I had the honour of dancing in the opening ceremony. My moment of stardom was in the musical history of Britain montage where I was predominantly in the 60s section but also got to dance to Dizzy Rascal rapping live. Rehearsals began in April of that year whilst I was still studying in Sheffield. Fortunately, my family home is in London so on Friday afternoons I would walk down to Sheffield bus station and board the National Express to Victoria Coach Station. Even during my exams I followed this weekly ritual. 150 hours of rehearsing, waiting and many Pringles later I performed in front of literally billions of spectators. Much of the ceremony was still a surprise to us performers as certain aspects, such as the Queen’s video, were held back right until show night. The whole process was exhausting and the plastic, ‘Quality Street’ costume as my fellow performers called it, uncomfortable but 100% worth it.
Just like any sports event, I got my souvenirs too. Besides a souvenir programme with my name in it, I was allowed to keep my costume and was given a t-shirt with ‘Ceremonies’ emblazoned across the chest. Following the games, that Summer I was on holiday in France when my mum and I spotted a bargain antique suit rack. My idea had been to display my ceremonies costume on a mannequin at home; my hope was fulfilled and the costume now sits proudly in my bedroom.
Today I went for a bike ride wearing my ceremonies t-shirt: having some Olympic kit on is good for motivation. Stopping at a railway crossing a young girl kept staring at me until she shyly asked if I was an Olympic athlete. I admitted that I was not, explaining my role in the opening ceremony. You never know, maybe one day I will represent team GB, mega lols!