Olympic Story: The Journey of an Indian from commoner to a Doping Volunteer.
My story with world sports started in 2013. As an Indian studying in Tver, Russia, I was extremely attracted towards the country, its development and future plans. Fascinated on hearing that Russia was set to host the 2014 Winter Olympics, I wanted to be a part of it in some capacity. I took my chance and applied to be a part of the games as a volunteer. A long wait followed. Several online tests and Skype calls later I was finally selected as a volunteer. This was the moment when I started living my Olympic dream. With very little support from my parents and the University, who feared how I’d cope in a new city in a foreign country, I was up to the task and the responsibility that was to be thrown at me.
This journey has moulded a lot of my dreams and has given a unique direction to my life. It felt like the flower had finally bloomed.
New friends, new city, diverse culture, cuisine and climate. It was quite an ordeal living in Sochi with volunteers from all around the globe who didn’t speak your first language. However, as I speak fluent Russian, I soon found myself growing increasingly comfortable in the new city. My next step was focusing on the Games and living it in the best way. It was the experience of a lifetime, inspiring me in every way. I made a lot of friends and created memories to be cherished forever. The only aim for all of us, coming from various nationalities, was to unitedly make the Games wonderful and memorable for all. This spirit of the Olympic games, its sacred ethos and the enthusiasm had taken over us all.
This is the power of Olympic Games, which connects peoples’ hearts without any boundaries. I worked at the Olympic Park with the EVS team. There was a desire to help people free of charge, to find new acquaintances on an international scale and to respond to people for good by doing good. I spent most of my time working as an English interpreter at various levels and helped people who arrived in Sochi to communicate fluently.
February 14, 2014. I was working near the Canadian House. I could not believe my luck when I had the privilege of having a brief interaction with President Vladimir Putin. It was a warm meeting, with me presenting him a traditional Indian key ring and he wishing me luck before parting ways. After this experience, I felt like a hero, with news channels wanting to cover my story and extremely overwhelmed colleagues, too!
At the closing ceremony of the Olympics, I was chosen as the representative of all the 25,000 volunteer candidates. Ice Hockey legend and Olympian, Hayley Wickenheiser from Canadian, along with Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, a Norwegian biathlete, presented me with a bouquet, as a token of gratitude to all volunteers for their efforts. It was a lifetime achievement and was telecast live around the world. I had done it, finally!My parents were delighted and wishes poured in from my University too for my dedicated efforts. I couldn’t be happier!
That is the story of SOCHI 2014. But, that was just the start to an illustrious world travel. I volunteered at the Toronto 2015 Pan-am Games, as the venue management crew.
I was selected as a Doping Control Officer in PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics and Paralympics Games. I was one of 6 Indian volunteers at PyeongChang 2018 games. A new and unique experience all over again. I had the privilege of meeting a political figure this time too. It was none other than the Japanese PM Mr. Abe.
I also got the opportunity to volunteer with my country’s team at the Olympic Village. I was thrilled to meet six time Olympian and Luger, Shiva Keshavan.
With the impact and impetus the Games create for the host country, I sincerely hope that one day my country gets the honour of hosting the Olympic games. What a feeling and experience that would be! As for me, I am now selected as the medical volunteer at the FIFA World Cup 2018, taking me back to where my journey had begun, the amazing and welcoming Russia! I am excited about what this new journey that I am embarking on has in store for me. I am happy to serve once again in a country that has given me so much.
See you soon, Russia. See you soon, FIFA WC 2018
Dr. Azad Patel, INDIA.