Norfolk and north Suffolk men talk of Olympic velodrome experience

Two Norfolk and north Suffolk men who have been at the heart of Great Britain's medal-winning action have spoken of their 'experience of a lifetime'.

The velodrome has been the place to be in the Olympic Games as members of the Royal family, music legends, celebrity chefs and a former prime minister watched Team GB win gold medal after gold medal.

British Cycling's world-beating team won seven out of 10 track cycling gold medals - matching their achievement from Beijing 2008.

The Pringle-shaped venue also saw Sir Chris Hoy become Britain's greatest Olympian of all time as he won his sixth gold medal - surpassing Sir Steve Redgrave's five.

Rob Smith, from Newton St Faith, just north of Norwich, and Mark Elmy, from Bungay, witnessed each and every medal won.


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Mr Smith, 59, has been working as the chief medical manager for the velodrome for the last six weeks and yesterday began the role for the BMX track.

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital nurse, who has previously worked at the Tour of Britain, Commonwealth Games, National Championships and World Championships, said: 'It was wonderful, I saw 10 gold medals won and seven were by Great Britain. It was the best track meet I've ever been to and every day was great.

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'When Chris Hoy won, I wonder if they did actually lift the roof off as the noise was so loud, it was wonderful. Laura Trott did such a magnificent ride, everybody was so happy about that, and Victoria Pendleton has gone out with a gold medal, that was wonderful as well.'

Over the course of the five days at the velodrome, Team GB won gold medals in the women's and men's keirin, women's and men's team pursuit, the men's team sprint, the men's individual sprint and the women's omnium. Pendleton also picked up a silver in the women's individual sprint and Ed Clancy won bronze in the men's omnium.

Those who had seen Britain's gold rush include Princes William and Harry, the Duchess of Cornwall, John Major, Heston Blumenthal and Lord Seb Coe. Sir Paul McCartney also joined the crowds one evening, treating the crowds to a rendition of Hey Jude.

Keen cyclist Mr Smith's role saw him coordinate a team of medical staff, including doctors, paramedics, nurses and anaesthetists. 'We were very lucky that it was fairly uneventful with no problems in terms of accidents,' said Mr Smith, who is a member of city cycling club Velo Club Norwich. 'But that might change with the BMX.'

He said working at the Olympic Games, compared to the worlds, nationals and Commonwealth Games was 'another step up' and had been 'such a buzz'.

And although there have been many memorable moments, he said one of the highlights from the velodrome was the men's team pursuit which saw the quartet of Ed Clancy, Geraint Thomas, Steven Burke and Peter Kennaugh shatter their own world record to take gold.

'They have all been highlights,' said Mr Smith, who will also work at the velodrome during the Paralympic Games. 'We've had a full house every day, which has been tremendous for the riders and the crowd. British Cycling's 15-year programme has paid off and we won the same amount of medals as Beijing. It's been wonderful.'

Meanwhile, Mr Elmy was one of the dozens of volunteers working as a Games Maker in the velodrome. His role saw him in the centre of the track, checking the athletes, coaches, managers, members of the media and officials' accreditation and escorting the athletes to and from the track.

The 46-year-old cycle coach and instructor, who also volunteered at the men's and women's cycling road races and will be volunteering at the Paralympic Games, said: 'We have had front row seats to the best racing on this planet and I feel so privileged to have been there and to have witnessed it first hand and close up.

'It's been an experience of a lifetime, it really has.'

kate.scotter@archant.co.uk

Read about Norfolk's link to the man behind track sprint cyclist Jason Kenny and Chris Hoy in today's eight-page supplement London Calling.

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