Jamie’s Journey to London 2012

Nineteen year old Jamie McConkey from Monaghan is a Bsc Business management student, an All-Ireland School’s U18 Bronze medallist and a county umpire. And, for the London 2012 Olympics he will be an official Games Maker.

Games Makers will undertake a wide range of roles throughout the Olympics and Jamie’s role with be as part of the technology team for the Table Tennis events. No stranger to the running of tournaments, Jamie has previously been involved in organising the Fermanagh Senior and Junior Opens, the Ulster Junior and Senior Opens, the Irish Junior Classification, the Ulster Senior, and the Junior Closed, among other tournaments. Jamie has also held roles including Fermanagh Press Officer, for the FTTA Committee, and Ulster Schools Secretary, for the Ulster Branch Executive Committee.

With such a history of multi-faceted involvement in table tennis, Jamie decided to apply for the role of Games Makers for the 2012 Olympics around the time of the 2010 South African World Cup, saying that “no event like this will ever come as close as the Olympic Games in London, I wanted to be involved”. The application process involved both forms and a telephone interview, and with over 250,000 applicants for only 70,000 roles, it was a lengthy process. However Jamie finally discovered he had been successful in late 2011.

In advance of being awarded the role, Jamie, along with other Games Makers were given roles at the test events in the London Prepares series, where he was also given a role at the Table Tennis event; this happened to be the ITTF Pro Tour Finals in the Excel Centre in London. While Jamie was in London he received training and was involved in statistics; his role was shot count however he may have a different role for the Olympics. For the shot count role he was paired up with someone else and one person from each pair conducted a manual shot count with pen and paper, while the other used laptop software, they then swapped after each match. The advantage of shot count is that it allows coaches to work out who hit the ball last, so if the count was three and the server won the point, it meant he hit a winner on the third ball. This allows coaches and players to have tactics going into a game and work out how their opponent might play, based on past data.

On 5 February 2012 Jamie went to London, to Wembley Arena, for orientation training, unfortunately this was the weekend London was under snow. Jamie arrived at Dublin Airport at 3am only to be told his flight was delayed and it looked as if he might miss the event. However, Ryanair were operating an earlier flight and allowed him a seat on their flight – Jamie has vowed never to slag Ryanair again!

He eventually made it to Wembley in time for the event, after a slow journey via both train and the tube. The event itself had over 4,000 Games Makers from across different sports, each with different roles; Jamie was seated between a woman from the press team at the Shooting Events and another who was working in Accreditation at the Olympic Village. The event was in essence a thank you from LOCOG and also to explain what was expected from the Games Makers. Guests at the event included comedian Eddie Izzard, the Olympic athlete and BBC pundit, Jonathan Edwards, and Chairman of LOCOG, Lord Sebastian Coe, who is also a 1,500m Double Olympic Gold Medallist.

Jamie will attend further ‘Role Specific’ and ‘Venue Specific’ training sessions in both June and July. With the games so close now Jamie says “I am really getting excited about the event and am so proud to have the opportunity to be part of the biggest sporting event in the World.”