On 9 July we received an email from one of the organisers of the Olympic Gymnastics. Part of this email is copied below
With my friends and colleagues in the Gymnastics Team today we have been preparing our training venue at Greenwich (London Soccerdome) to receive gymnasts from 70 nations around the world from next Monday. Looking at our gymnasts training halls, they are amazing and second to none I have seen before. Our athletes’ lounge where athletes socialise and rest between sessions lacks warmth, colour and a sense of welcome – it is blue with no external light. We have a large corner area with borrowed leather settees and seats and really need something to make it comfy for the gymnasts. Over 4 weeks up to 300 of them will pass through the facility twice each day and they spend a lot more time there than in the arena where they perform.
In pondering with my colleagues about how to brighten up the athlete lounge I thought back to your cushions – what a marvellous project and involvement of so many people. Is there any possibility that you would have some cushions remaining which we could use to brighten and warm this area and give to any of the gymnasts who would like to take them back home to the end? Our training and competition venues are a colour palette of strong pinks and purples and cushions in those colours would carry the colour theme from the training to the resting environments.
Yes, very short notice, but we can help you out with this, and will be happy to do what we can. The GB Rhythmic Gymnasts have already received the cushions they requested and they absolutely love them, so I'm sure pink & purple cushions will help make your lounge very comfy for all the gymnasts.
Fortunately Fibre-East was the weekend before 16 July when they needed the cushions, so we quickly planned to add a 'pink/purple making area' to the Woolsack stand at the event. We also sent out an appeal for more cushions, some to be quickly made especially in pink and purple.
By the end of Fibre-East we had 200 cushions in the special red bags ready to be taken to Greenwich the next morning.
When the Olympic Games had finished we received this lovely email telling us about how much the gymnasts had enjoyed the cushions.
I left the cushions in the very good hands of our volunteer Meg, a stalwart of British Gymnastics volunteers who supported her husband Michael throughout in all the functions of the Athlete Services role. This involved meeting and greeting, refreshments, ice for injuries, managing relaxation areas and generally and most importantly making them feel welcome and at home in the training and competition environment.
Meg was thrilled with the concept of the cushions, the initiative, the effort and the thought that went into each. She invited all the athletes to view them, explained the story and invited them to take one each. On 7th August we transferred from Greenwich Training Academy and North Greenwich Arena where the artistic and trampoline gymnastics took place to Wembley Arena where the rhythmic gymnasts was held and the cushions went with us. At the very end we had only three cushions remaining, a testament to how popular they were. We believe that cushions have gone back with athletes to over 60 countries.
A number of gymnasts have mentioned their cushions on facebook and twitter and several have promised to e-mail the person who created them from the message they contained. Indeed Louis Smith, the winner of an individual silver on pommels and a team bronze for GBR put his cushion pride of place on his Olympic village bed and showed it to the world.
As the competition organisers we were thrilled to have this extra little bit of british care and hospitality to offer to the world’s best gymnasts and found many of the messages attached to them inspiring.
Thank you to yourself and the big team of volunteers behind the scenes who made this happen.