Wednesday, 8 August 2012

The Olympic Window Cleaner

Olympic torchbearer Richard Jackson on top of the Sage Gateshead. He says a lot of time was taken up figuring out how to carry the flame safely during his abseil.
My Olympics: 'The whole experience was surreal and over before I realised.' Richard Jackson, 44, tells of abseiling with the Olympic torch down the Sage Gateshead and the popularity of the Games. I have been looking forward to the Olympics but most of my time has been taken up figuring out how I would carry the torch down the side of the Sage. You need two hands to abseil but I did work out a technique to do it with just one. The weather was another factor because the Sage is very slippery when wet. And it poured down on the Saturday morning I was due to carry the torch. It was tricky coming down but it went OK.

I couldn't believe how many people had turned out at 7am in absolutely foul weather. To see that many people was great. The whole experience was surreal and over before I realised. It only hit me when I got home. I wish I had enjoyed it more at the time but I was concentrating on coming down without slipping or burning the rope with the flame. Afterwards, I thought, "Wow". I was exceptionally proud and glad that I'd had the chance to do it.

High-rise window cleaner Richard Jackson abseiled from the top of The Sage Gateshead carrying the Olympic flame. Click to enlarge.
I haven't seen as much of the Olympics as I wanted to because I've been working. But I am enjoying the athletics and rooting for Team GB. Some of the other sports like the equestrian competition are not really my cup of tea. But I like the football. In the north-east, the main chat has been about the football because that's the only event held up here. I was in Coventry when they were hosting a football match and it was the same there.

But it's great to see how many people are enjoying the Games in London. When I watch the news and the highlights, there are so many people milling about the Olympic Park at 6 o'clock in the morning and at 11 o'clock at night. Richard Jackson, from Seaton Sluice in Northumberland, is a rope access supervisor for ISIS Property Services. In essence, he is an extreme window cleaner, abseiling down tall buildings, such as the Sage Gateshead, to clean their windows. In June he carried the Olympic torch down the building.

London 2012: Cleaners and security staff recruited to catch Olympic athletes using performance enhancing drugs -  Any of the 10,000 athletes can be subject to spot testing at any time during the Games. But organisers have told staff inside the athletes’ village to report potentially suspicious items that might suggest drug use as part of a new intelligence led approach to testing. The Independent understands that staff have been told to keep an eye out on suspicious non-prescription medicines, blister packs of tablets and any intravenous equipment that might point towards doping. Jonathan Harris, LOCOG’s chief anti-doping officer, today told reporters that the team in charge of uncovering drug use were not just reliant on random spot checks to catch cheats. “We have made other LOCOG functions – security, cleaning, events services, others – very aware of the issues of doping,” he said. “So if they should come across practices, paraphernalia, whatever it may be, then they would bring it to our attention and we would investigate it this and treat it as intelligence.”

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