Gold Challenge Event Review

Gold Challenge Event
at the Olympic Stadium

Stratford, London
1st April 2012

Reviewed by Shelly Harper

On Sunday 1st April 2012, myself and my 9 year old daughter attended one of the first public events at the newly built Olympic Stadium in Stratford, London, The Gold Challenge.

The event, founded by Dan Thompson in 2009, brought together Team GB Legends, Celebrities, Music and TV stars and the all important Gold Challenge Fundraisers in order to raise money for over 100 partner charities.

Upon arrival in Stratford we were guided to the stadium by the numerous stewards standing between Stratford Station and the stadium and although we expected Westfield Shopping Centre to be crowded because of shoppers and event visitors, we were pleasantly surprised to arrive at the stadium with ease.

When we arrived outside the stadium, traffic control was in place so pedestrians could get to the event quickly and safely but we were quickly confused by the various entry points. Myself and my daughter ended up going through the main gate and getting through security before someone realised we didn’t have a ticket. A very friendly, helpful manager then took us round to the accreditation office to collect our press passes.

Once we had our passes we went back to the main gate to get through security. Considering the amount of people at the event, we managed to get through the body scans and bag searches very quickly. Going through security was exactly the same procedure as at an airport but faster so within a few minutes we were standing at the main entrance of the very grand Olympic Stadium. My daughter was amazed at how big the stadium actually was. We had previously visited Stratford on a few occasions and she saw the stadium from the viewing area but when actually standing in front of the building, she was in awe.

As we got closer to the stadium, we could hear music being played so we investigated. Stand 128 was the designated area for press and we were able to get to trackside which provided us with an amazing view of the track, the pitch, the seating areas and the inside of the stadium. Although construction work is still taking place you can see that the Olympic Stadium will deliver the legacy as expected and is a truly impressive venue for the 2012 Olympics.

The act on stage when we arrived in the stadium were The Boxettes, an all female vocal group based in London. The Boxettes are led by Bellatrix, the World Female Beatbox Champion. The girls use only their voices to makes music and were amazing. To be honest, I wasn’t convinced at first that they didn’t use backing music but after watching the girls perform a few tracks, it was apparent that they have a real talent to make their own music.

Once the Boxettes had completed their set, there was a small break in which music was played around the stadium accompanied by video clips on the big screens showing some of the charities and the people they have helped since starting the Gold Challenge. The clips were very emotional but it was very heart warming to know that everyone had come together at the Gold Challenge to raise awareness and money for all the great charities involved.

During the break my daughter and I took the opportunity to have a look around the stadium. As we had press passes we were able to get pretty much everywhere but the pitch. The press area was situated at track level so we had to go downstairs to get that part of the building. The downstairs area that the general public can’t see is huge with lots of corridors, tunnels and rooms. During the Gold Challenge, downstairs was used for participants and members of the parade to prepare and was exceptionally well organised. With approximately 5000 people taking part, you would expect it be very hustle and bustle with people running around but actually, it was very calm and well thought out. The only problem we had was that we got lost and had to ask several stewards how to get back up to the seating area. The staff were very friendly and helpful and we didn’t feel like we were bothering them which was nice.

On our way back up to seating level we spotted our first Team GB star of the day. I say we saw, in fact it was my daughter that spotted her……. It was Fatima Whitbread MBE. Fatima became Javelin World Champion in 1987 and has won several medals over the years, more recently she appeared in I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here but for the Gold Challenge, she was obviously there to give her support in the days events.

By the time we got back to our seating area, it was time for the lucky Gold Challengers to do the Olympic 100m running events. It was great to see children, adults, charity members, able bodied participants, disabled participants and celebrities all mixing together to take part in the races. The public were very supportive during the events and cheered for everyone that took part. For one day it wasn’t about winning, it was the taking part that made a difference and everyone that took part in the races was made to feel like a champion by receiving a medal at the finish line which I thought was a nice touch and a great memento of the day.

After the races, it was time for the Charity Parade around the race track which is also the official opening ceremony route. The parade consisted of mainly charities and schools from all over the country. All in all there was approximately 5000 people walking around the track and every single one of them got a mention and a thank you for taking part. Music was provided by Oompah Brass, a brass ensemble with a modern twist. I was apprehensive about listening to a brass group but these guys are different because they cover rock and pop songs and they do it well.

Whilst the parade was going on the Olympic Stadium saw its first marriage proposal. Charity Mascot for the African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust, Wendell Raphael was shown on the big screen asking his girlfriend to marry him in front of 20,000 people. When she nodded to say yes, the whole crowd cheered and applauded. Wendell will be carrying the Olympic Torch in Hackney, London two days before the games and will also be taking part in the opening ceremony so I think 2012 will certainly be a memorable year for him.

As the parade came to an end it was time to watch another music act, Blake. Blake are a classical vocal quartet and are widely known as the group that formed on the very popular social network sight, Facebook. They released their debut album in 2007 which won them the Album of the Year Ward at the Classical BRIT awards in 2008. I have to admit that although their music was not to my taste, they did an exceptional cover of Snow Patrols, Chasing Cars and even showcased a couple of their own songs which I have to admit, were really quiet good.

Following Blake, it was time for a break and another opportunity for video clips of charities to be shown on the big screens in the stadium. We took this opportunity to get something to eat and drink from one of the various stands situated around the stadium. At some events there are numerous mobile caterers but at the Gold Event there only seemed to be a few which was nice as you weren’t overpowered by vast choices and various smells. Queues were kept to a minimum and I was pleasantly surprised to see that litter is kept to a minimum due to the numerous amount of bins situated around the stadium. It appears to be very environmentally friendly with individual recycling bins provided for plastic, glass, paper, cardboard, food waste etc which can be a little confusing at first look but once you get your head round which colour bin takes what, it’s very easy to recycle your litter rather than carrying it with you all day.

After lunch we headed back to our seating area to watch the 4 x 100m relay races. Within these races we were able to see celebrities taking part such as Austin Healey (Rugby), Gareth Thomas (Rugby/Celebrity Big Brother), Andy Akinwolere (CBBC), Dalton Grant (High Jumper) and Noel Thatcher (Paralympian Runner) running alongside charity members. The celebrities were obviously very competitive in these races but it provided great entertainment and drove the crowd wild with excitement. Between preparing races, interviews were taking place with the celebrity runners and other celebrities which had shown up to offer their support on the day. Dame Mary Peters appeared with her medals that she won for the pentathlons and shot put events during the Olympics and Commonwealth Games between 1958 and 1974.

Katie Price also appeared with her Son Harvey. They were in support of the charity Vision as Harvey has the condition Septo-Optic Dysplasia meaning that the development of his optic nerve is unpredictable. Harvey was so happy to be there as part of such a big event and it was great to hear him speak to share his joy.

Once the 4 x 100m relay races were over it was time for 4 x 25m relay races specifically for the disabled people, particularly the children with mobility disabilities. It was very emotional to watch these inspirational people taking part and showing that although they have disabilities they can take part in activities which previously they may not have had the opportunity to try.

At the end of the races Dan Thompson, the founder of The Gold Challenge delivered a very touching speech reminding us why we were all there and how we can help support the many partnered charities involved before introducing the last few acts of the day.

At this point we got to see Angel, Paul Potts, Spelbound and finally Dionne Bromfield.

Angel is an up and coming R & B artist from Shepherds Bush and although he has only just released his debut single, Go Hard featuring Wretch 32, he has already been nominated for MTV’s Brand New Music Award and HMV’s Next Big Thing.

Paul Potts is an English Tenor that won the first series of Britain Got Talent with his performance of Nessun Dorma. He performed that very song to us at the Gold Event and it went down a storm. It was very clear to see how and why he won Britains Got Talent and has continued to be successful.

Spelbound are a gymnastic troupe that won the fourth series of Britains Got Talent. Since they won Britains Got Talent, they have travelled all over the world and fingers crossed will be performing for the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics 2012.

Dionne Bromfield is a British soul singer and TV presenter from East London. Her debut album Introducing Dionne Bromfield was released in 2009 by Amy Winehouse’s Lioness Record Label and whilst writing and performing her own music, she also finds time to present a show called Friday Download on CBBC. More recently, Dionne has recorded ‘Spinnin for 2012’, the official song for the 8,000 mile, 70 day long Olympic Torch Relay with Tinchy Stryder.

Overall, I have to say that both me and my daughter had a fantastic day at the Gold Event at the Olympic Stadium. It was a very humbling experience to see so many people coming together and getting involved to support the charities that so desperately need the help and support of the public to keep up their good work. We were very lucky to see inside the Olympic Stadium before it’s officially opened to the public and to enjoy the entertainment provided by local stars.

It is definitely an experience we won’t forget for a long time and certainly makes up for us not getting any tickets to The Olympics 2012.

I went with my Mum to see the Gold Challenge event at the Olympic Stadium in Stratford, London. There was 150 different charities, celebrity athletes and performers such as Fatima Whitbread, Gareth Thomas, Austin Healey, Grant Dalton, Noel Thatcher, Paul Potts (opera singer), Dionne Bromfield (soul singer) and gymnastics group Spelbound.

The stadium was massive and the track and field were wicked.

Overall it was a fantastic day, I had a brilliant time.
Rosie Harper (Age 9)

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