TODAY marks the start of the London Paralympics – and when they finish one Sheffield volunteer will have gone more than the extra mile.
Geoff Olner, aged 50, is aiding the Chinese delegation at the games until they culiminate in a blaze of golden glory on September 9.
But his involvement with both events stretches much further.
The Sheffield Hallam University lecturer has travelled over 26,000 miles while interviewing and training volunteers, supplying their uniforms and otherwise helping out since February 2011.
And he even featured in a poster campaign which saw his picture used in travel stations, alongside that of Olympic golden girl Jessica Ennis.
Geoff, of Crookesmoor, said: “It has been very emotional. There have been some fantastic highs.
“I’ve travelled over 26,000 miles going to and from Sheffield for this and every single mile of that is well worth it.”
Architects Geoff and wife Cath enjoyed several Olympic events – including Jess’s heptathlon gold medal – and he is now looking forward to seeing some ‘remarkable’ feats at the Paralympics.
He added: “When I get back to Sheffield I’ll probably have to dig very deep to welcome students to Sheffield just the same as we’ve welcomed the Chinese athletes to London.
“I just hope their committment is as high!”
John Timms, aged 40, and sister Janine, 37, are also hoping to make the Paralympics a family affair.
The Rotherham dad is an assistant technical delegate for wheelchair rugby and Wincobank university worker Janine – one of the most respected table officials for basketball – a technical official for basketball.
John, a director at Sheffield sports consultancy MLS and owner of Sheffield Sharks basketball team, said: “It’s going to be the biggest and best Paralympics ever.
“I don’t know of any other brothers and sisters volunteering. The whole family is into sport, it is a big drive in our lives.”