For a student journalist, there is nothing quite like going out and practising your trade. And this is exactly what Sheffield Hallam University students have been doing volunteering for the Games News Service (GNS) for the Commonwealth Games.
We have all had slightly different experiences, working at 13 of the 17 different sports venues across Delhi. We have also quickly learnt that reporting on the games can be unpredictable and is a test of our ability to adapt to unfamiliar situations.
Says Stephen McShane, a recent journalism graduate, “You really have to think on your feet. On Saturday I was ready to interview a boxer at the Talkatora Stadium when his opponent collapsed from exhaustion right next to me. Suddenly I had to stop what I was doing and find out as much as I could from the medical staff as this was a big news story.”
We have all had positive experiences of working here, enjoying the excitement of the events and interviewing some of our favourite British sports stars like Rebecca Adlington and Mark Lewis-Francis. But it has also been hard work with up to 12-hour shifts, sometimes interviewing 20 athletes per day and being continually focused.
A Masters student, Denis Green says being a journalist at the Aquatics Complex, is tough going.
“As soon you arrive before the events you need to research the swimmers, analyse their events and ask them careful questions in the media areas to provide quotes that will be useful for the world’s media. You have to repeat this and lapse of concentration such as forgetting someone’s name means your quote is useless.”
The quotes we have gathered are picked up and used in news reports across the globe. It is really satisfying to discover that a newspaper or website has used your quotes in a news story.
Scott Richards has been working at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium and his quotes from Bronze medal winning Samoa athlete Tasele Satupai were used on the international athletics association website.
Most of us visiting Delhi for the first time will take away great memories of the city and of volunteering at the games. The venues have proven to be world-class and the games a well-oiled machine, despite what we had read in the news.
Who knows, maybe our experiences in Delhi are likely to be more valuable to us than classroom learning. With Britain preparing to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012 and the Commonwealth Games in 2014, maybe we will be reporting on some of these events as professional journalists.
The author is a student of journalism at Sheffield Hallam University