Olympic Bites 30th June 2012

Countdown… 27 days! Another snippet from the diary of Prof Louise Burke, Head Dietitian, IOC and world leader in sports nutrition on her 2008 Beijing Games experience.

Date: Thursday July 31

The day starts with a media conference. Peter Baquie and I have been invited to speak to the press about life in the Village. Peter and I pass on our comments about the Dining Hall and I get asked if I will be sampling some Bull Penis while I am over here. That’s a prick of a question. Clearly, it is a slow news day back in Oz. Can’t some football players misbehave and take the heat off us until there is really something to write about?

The working day is filled with packing up Recovery Eskies™for all our teams, getting my office sorted, and setting up stations for wee testing and our Secret Weapons. If I tell you any more, I will probably have to kill you. Again. I don’t want this diary massing a body count like an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie so perhaps I can talk about the Village instead.

The Village is divided into a residential zone - in this case an expanse of 7-8 story buildings filled with enough apartments to house most of the 10,500 athletes and 5000 officials who will participate in this Games. The Aussie team takes up towers in apartments D8 and D4, and many of the windows are draped with Aussie flags and boxing kangaroo paraphernalia. The bottom floors of D8 have been turned into our HQ, with a medical area, admin section, and athlete service area. There’s a space and an efficient person to help you whether you require a Band-Aid™, a massage, a change to your ticket home or a double adaptor. Other countries have made their presence felt by decorating their areas with huge banners and cultural icons (Dr. Who must be competing for the British since there is a Tardis parked outside their Village area).

Dotted between all the apartment buildings are the residence centres which house lounge areas, internet cafes and laundries. Assigned to your bed are two barcoded laundry bags to send off your colours and whites to be dropped off and collected for a washing and drying service. The most remarkable part of the Village is the space between buildings. In some previous Villages this has been a desolate space of artificial turf or cheap carpet thrown down between dirt and rubble, indicating that things blew out in time and budget before the Games opening. In 2008 Dream Village Beijing, each space is a beautifully designed and manicured are of trees, statues and shrines. There are many gorgeous nooks and crannies, all with their own themes. If a leaf blows down from a tree onto the green lawn, two little men carrying brooms made of twigs tied together immediately jump out of nowhere and restore the space to its immaculate beauty.

Date: Saturday August 2.

We are now moving into the fourth level of organisation for a successful Games outcome. Having a Plan B. Whatever BOCOG, the AOC and Louise Burke haven’t thought ahead to implement, must now be achieved by ingenuity, stealth or making do. No cups and straws to cater for 433 athletes to get ice slushies down? No problem. An army of 433 can be mobilised to “acquire” said implements from the Dining Hall each time they go over for a meal. The Slushie fund is set up and the athletes give generously every day. Having challenges with getting people or heavy items around the Village at a time when athletes are trying to conserve their fuel and minimise their fatigue, yet BOCOG have forbidden motorised vehicles within the Village confines? No problems. Get dispensation to have a Golf Cart because your Chef De Mission has a documented hip problem that prevents him from doing long distances in a day. Then actually bring in 3 golf carts and devise an ingenious roster such that they are never seen together or in the same vicinity at any one time, so that everyone thinks that it is a single unit. The list of smart solutions to hairy problems could go on and on…..This is where you really see the experience of people with several Olympic Games under their belts come into play!

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