Let The Games Begin! I'm Ready!
Arriving a day or two early to the Olympic Games gives the media a chance to check out the lay of the land. From the venues to the transportation, media work areas, photographer positions, internet access, phone service, press conferences, food and so much more those early days are critical. I use the time to get ahead of the curve so that once the competition begins I’m so familiar with the lay of the land that I can focus on seeing the story unfold and capturing all the action with my camera. The equestrian journalists are very lucky for these Games. At the six other Games I covered, transportation to the venue often took at least an hour but at Greenwich Park where the equestrian events are going to be held in London the walk is only 5 minutes from the university accommodations where most of us are staying.
Cutty Sark Hall is a college dorm setup. The rooms are small but since most of our time is spent at the venue, being close is way more important than anything else. They are charging for internet access at 10 British Pounds a week which is approximately $17 U.S. dollars.
The dorms have a kitchen and the university is surrounded by all kinds of stores. Most of the journalists are taking advantage of the phone stores, the supermarket, the restaurants and the pubs.
The press facilities for equestrian are great. The photographer’s area is a bit small but the working press area is quite large and if things get too tight in the photography area some of us will probably spill over into the writing area.
There are bins where orders, jogs, flash quotes, news and results will be made available. A social area will allow those wanting to chat a place to go. A separate room is also available for press conferences.
Any time you want to enter a venue you first go through security. It is similar to airport security where everything must go through a machine to be cleared, including us.
No matter where you want to go there are people everywhere to guide and answer questions. Military personnel are also clearly visible and keeping a watchful eye.
Each of the sports has a press room setup but then there is also a Main Press Center (MPC) which provides information for all the sports. Food is also available as well as some fun bonuses for the media. Among the food service are familiar names such as MacDonalds.
Press Perks - Complimentary Massages and Proctor & Gamble Salon Services
The media work hard and as a result some companies are recognizing that they deserve some perks. Among those bonuses are free massages by Wellbeing & Treatment (www.wellbeingandtreatment.co.uk). I took advantage of that and my massage therapist was Adrian Monllor who came all the way from Spain. To get the massage you first had to fill out a form and one of the questions was to answer why we needed a massage. My answer was very simple. “I am a photographer.” Try spending just one day carrying around the pro equipment we use and those words are self-explanatory.
Adrian had his work cut out for him as my back was very tight but 20 minutes later I was feeling better after he used pressure, stretching, gentle and hard massage to help loosen it up. It’s a great service and nice of these massage therapists to donate their time (and energy) to help keep the media comfortable.
Yet another free service is salon amenities. What fun that was! This is compliments of P&G Beauty & Grooming. They also suggest downloading their P&G Beauty Recommended App at http://beauty.supersavvyme.co.uk/app.
Proctor & Gamble wants to help make people aware of their many brands. A group of experienced stylists were brought together to provide the best services possible, since this is a pretty intense time for the moms, athletes and media they were offering their complimentary services to. As far as I can recall something like this has never been offered at an Olympic Games and I was really appreciative of having this available.
I tested the hair stylist and manicurist and am hoping to go back for the make-up artist. So while my after pictures show an improvement from my before, I think a little makeup is definitely needed.
My hair stylist was Sharon Hayford who lives in Stratford London and has been freelancing for photo shoots, weddings and more for some 18 years now. Sharon gave me the sleek hair look and used products I didn’t even realize that Proctor & Gamble has including Pantene Heat Defense which is good to use before you blow dry. Then she finished up with Pantene hair spray and Smooth and Sleek, which also has a shampoo and conditioner.
A special perk was also getting your nails done, including two nails with your country’s flag. Katie Elliott was the artist who did a terrific job creating the red, white and blue on my thumbs using Max Factor nail polish, yet another Proctor and Gamble product.
This may all seem like something strange to be doing at an Olympic Games but when you are about to spend the next two weeks working long hours with little sleep it was a nice bonus to have this free service made available. So a special thank you to P&G from all those of us who took advantage of this opportunity.
More to See and Do
It was nice to have a few moments for me especially since work continued to loom throughout the day. I had decided to head down to the MPC because of a photographer’s meeting where we were forewarned and forearmed with the dos and don’ts of what to expect. It was a bit tedious for those of us shooting just one discipline because they went through access for all the sports.
The photographers have their own floor at the MPC and both Nikon and Canon were there with equipment to lend and cleaning and repair service available. It’s a great opportunity for photographers to try new equipment. Nikon lent me their latest pro camera, the D4, and so I am having a great time learning and working with this new piece of equipment.
Every photographer has their own selection of lenses but I plan to use Nikon’s 200-400, 24-70, 12-24, 70-200 and 18-200. The 200 to 400 is a terrific lens for most of the events we shoot because of the size of the arenas and the distance we are allowed to shoot from. Kudos to these companies for supporting the pros this way.
Transportation proved to be quite convenient once we knew what we were doing. The first day a few of us learned the hard way how not to go to the MPC. The best route for those of us staying in Greenwich was to take the local metro to Stratford International where you would then catch a shuttle that drops you off at the International Broadcast Center which is adjacent to the MPC.
The first day we got off at Stratford and from there it took us well over an hour to find our way to the MPC. Walking from Stratford to the venues was endless; one more reason why going a day or two early made sense. Also, for those of us covering equestrian it won’t be necessary to go to the MPC very often since all of our sports will be taking place at Greenwich Park, which has its own media setup. In fact, this is the first time everything will literally take place at one location, even the cross-country.
I like going to the MPC for a variety of reasons. To begin with you have a chance to mix and mingle with media from all the sports but also because a fair amount of goodies are given out. The main desk gave out backpacks with helpful information in them. At Nikon I got a rain cover; something which I’m very thankful for since the weather in London is expected to be quite damp. Although so far we’ve had nothing but sunny skies.
In this report I jumped right into being onsite but am compelled to talk about how easy the arrival was. Once landing at the airport we were able to get our credentials before heading down the lanes that were clearly marked for the Olympic Family. I had a problem getting my credential because one of the papers I had faxed never arrived but later that day I was able to resolve that at the Olympic Park accreditation.
Once we had our luggage we took the Heathrow Express train service to Paddington where transportation took us straight to our Cutty Sark accommodations. Since most of us had two carry-ons and two pieces of checked luggage, the help was much appreciated.
Once at Cutty Sark we were shown to our rooms. They are small dorm rooms with a kitchen adjacent, but the security is good, which is something we care about with all the expensive equipment we carry. The toughest part at Cutty Sark is having to walk up three flights of stairs since the elevator only is available when requested. Fortunately, we are able to keep most of our equipment in lockers at the venue so that we don’t have to carry all that back and forth each day.
Well I think that about covers this second story. Friday July 27 is the jog for eventing and in between will be a good time to walk the cross-country course. Saturday and Sunday July 28-29 is when the eventing riders do their Dressage tests. Monday, July 30 is the big Cross-country day and Tuesday July 31 is Show Jumping when both the team and individual medalists will be named.
Feel free to email me with your comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Diana De Rosa's image Gallery London Olympic Preview 2012 - July 26