One enchanted evening at the Sydney Olympics the stars were truly aligned at the T&FT Supporters Party as Michael Johnson & Denise Lewis joined us to the delight and astonishment of our clients – a preview of their future BBC roles as they expertly handled the Q&A interviews. What a highlight!
“How was that arranged?” was the question from clients that thought they had won the lottery. For Denise we had been taking care of her mother Joan’s event travel arrangements for a few years and she was a member of the T&FT group in Sydney. Denise was her usual cheery self, especially having won the Heptathlon gold medal the day before, and was very much at home with her mother amidst adoring British fans, a courtesy she has extended to us on other occasions since. For Michael we had worked with his agent since 1993 and having assisted in securing various services in Sydney for Michael’s family the bonus for us was that the superstar of world athletics at that time attended our event. He relaxed into a very generous extended stay when realising that he was with real fans – a show of hands had revealed that a good number of the group had seen his astonishing UK and European debut run in July 1990 at a chilly Meadowbank stadium when running 19.85 for 200m and obliterating a world class field: watch this and be amazed at the debris of athletes in his wake… ! Michael Johnson – Edinburgh 1990 video clip
As Sydney was the end of Michael’s 10 year international track career and he had just won his second 400m Olympic gold medal that he shared an evening with regular athletics fans, albeit supporters that had been enthralled by him from the very start, was precious and an insight into his shared love of our sport and as a very genuine guy – truly memorable.
Sydney was, up until that time, easily the best Olympics ever in terms of atmosphere and presentation as if sporting stardust had been sprinkled across what was in itself a stunning location. The “Cathy Freeman Night”, when she won the 400m, was pure drama as if her lighting the Olympic flame had not been enough of a spectacle. “Our Kath” (Merry) won the bronze in that race, just pipping Donna Fraser, and also caught up in the crescendo of noise that evening was Jonathan Edwards winning the Triple Jump gold. Darren Campbell and Steve Backley won silvers and Kelly Holmes edged closer to tasting immortality with her bronze.
It had been a wonderful Games that T&FT then added another cherry to with the T&FT Games Farewell Party being the charter of a Captain Cooks cruise boat on Sydney Harbour, to be among the hundreds of vessels there, and to experience the Closing Ceremony via an on-board TV and then be in the prime spot to experience the Fireworks Finale that exploded all around us – it reduced many to tears as the “art of BEING THERE” had reached spectacular new heights.
Earlier in the athletics season Gateshead was once again the Men’s GB team’s “winning venue” pipping the German team by just half a point for victory in the European Cup Final as the GB Women came 5th: it was a freezing cold weekend and as far removed from Australian conditions as you could imagine – very similar to Edinburgh back in 1990. During the earlier actual winter indoor season the European Indoor Championships held in Ghent, Belgium saw Jason Gardener win the 60m and Christian Malcolm the 200m – both in time moving into prominent positions with British Athletics, of course, and like Denise and Michael still involved in the sport that we all love.