Caister man to take part in Olympics opening and closing ceremonies

A MAN who relentlessly pursued his dream of dancing in front of the masses will have the eyes of the world on him later this year when he takes part in the spectacular Olympics opening and closing ceremonies.

John Gomez, 37, of Finisterre Rise, Caister, successfully passed two auditions to join 15,000 volunteers who were selected to perform in the three-hour, �27m ceremony.

Growing up in the Gambia, Mr Gomez danced in his spare time before and after school but his family did not approve.

'Dancing was not the sign of a good family,' he said. 'I was adopted by my aunt and I would hide my dance costumes at my friend's house which was five miles away.'

He left home when he was 16 to pursue a career in dancing.

'I danced all around Africa working in hotels and airports and would earn about �10 a month. I loved it. Even if they didn't pay me I still would have loved doing it.'

Mr Gomez, who works on the checkout at Asda in Great Yarmouth, moved from the Gambia after marrying a holidaymaker from Caister six years ago.

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He joined an African drumming group in Ormesby and his friend, Sarah, told him about the chance to audition to be part of the Olympics. He passed two auditions and found out he was successful in March.

Rehearsals will last 36 days and although Mr Gomez cannot disclose exactly what he will be doing, he said it is strongly linked to the arts.

The world is waiting to see what London will lay on after one billion people watched Bejing open the Olympics in 2008.

The ceremony, which accounts for nearly a third of the entire Olympics budget, will last for around three hours and is the brainchild of artistic director Danny Boyle.

'I never thought in my life that I would be able to be a part of the Olympics,' Mr Gomez said. 'When you are doing something that is in your heart, you need to just go for it. I never gave up. It is in my heart. I was absolutely over the moon when I found out.'

He said the once in a lifetime opportunity would not be possible if he had not met his wife, Stephanie, in June 2005 when working as a dancer welcoming tourists at the Gambia airport.

Mrs Gomez, 59, who works as a carer was visiting the country with her friend whose family lived there.

He gave her his number and the following day, he went to meet her at her hotel. After a walk on the beach, the couple found they had a lot in common.

'She paid for me to stay at the hotel with her for 14 nights. We stayed in touch and we got married in front of 800 people in the Gambia 10 months later.'

They then moved back to Mrs Gomez's home in Caister, where the mother-of-two had lived for eight years.

'On April 21, we celebrated six years of marriage,' he said.

Mrs Gomez said: 'I'm so proud of him. Things have been tough but I love John and he loves me. I didn't go to the Gambia looking for a husband, I had just gone through a divorce.'

The grandmother of three said that her husband had been the victim of unprovoked racist attacks since moving to the UK but despite all the setbacks, he has continued to remain positive.

'When he came here he was homesick and didn't like any of the food. It was difficult at first but things are easier now.

'I hope that when I retire we can move to the Gambia,' she said.