Olympics pass role a great gig

MARYKE PENMAN
Last updated 08:57 07/08/2012
Kate Lowden
ON YOUR MARKS: Kate Lowden, right, at the media and accreditation tent during the World Rowing Championships at Lake Karapiro.

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As gatekeeper to the world's most elite athletes at the Olympic village, a North Shore woman has given the inside word on the perks and responsibilities that come with the gig.

AUT graduate Kate Lowden is the accreditation venue manager for the London Olympics.

Every day during the 17-day event Ms Lowden rubs shoulders with the 16,000 top athletes including Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps as she goes about her work.

Ms Lowden manages a team of 70 volunteers who provide accreditation passes to athletes and officials taking part in the Games.

"The village is amazing, there are always athletes wandering around, big flags outside team apartments, a large dining hall and a plaza full of shops," Ms Lowden says.

"Each country makes the accommodation their own. The Kiwis have flags up and messages from home in their reception area. They performed a haka when the team arrived, this created a real buzz around the village."

The Olympic Village is about 35.6 hectares (88 acres) in size and includes 24-hour shops, restaurants, a gym, medical and leisure facilities.

An alcohol-free bar called The Globe is the most popular social area for athletes, Ms Lowden says, although it serves only Coca-Cola and Powerade during the Games.

An 18,000 square metre athlete dining hall is at the centre of the village and will serve up to 1.2 million meals.

During their downtime athletes can get a free haircut, manicure, massage or head to the cinema.

Although these privileges are strictly for athletes only, Ms Lowden says she is simply enjoying the atmosphere.

Royalty paid a visit to the village earlier in the week and Ms Lowden was one of the main event staff to welcome the Queen, Prince Harry, Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton.

At the top of her experiences so far is getting a sneak peak of the opening ceremony at a secret rehearsal, she says.

"The atmosphere is great.

"Everyone is now in the village and I'm getting to meet a number of top athletes.

"I am most looking forward to seeing lots of Kiwi athletes coming back to the village after winning medals."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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