London 2012: Children of the bid reflect on their trips to Singapore
Three of the young people who went to Singapore in 2005 to help London win the Games reflect on how the trip changed their lives.
Basketball, cricket, swimming, athletics, cross country – the list of sports Amber Charles played as a teenager made her the perfect choice to represent the London bid.
Now 22, Amber - the final torchbearer in the Olympic Torch relay - is on a basketball scholarship at Tennessee Temple University in America and is looking to compete in Rio 2016.
She was 15 and at St Angela’s Ursuline School in Forest Gate when she went to Singapore, but had been involved in the bid since she was 14, helping to present it at the International Olympic headquarters in Lusanne, Switzerland.
For Amber, who lives in Kempton Road, Newham, the trip was a whirlwind, but those hours and minutes before London was announced as the winner of the 2012 Games still stand out.
She said: “We were sitting there, it’s a very British thing, we were saying if we didn’t win that at least we’d tried.
“When we won it the whole room exploded. There were people climbing on the tables. It felt like the President took forever to say London.”
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The bid left Amber with more than just memories. She said: “I think I am a lot more confident. I realise the impact you can have. People care what younger generations have to say. I learned about people and how the Olympics can unite people.”
Also on the trip was Humaira Patel, who was among the youngest pupils to go to Singapore in 2005.
Now 20, the Ilford resident was just 13 when she became part of the winning London 2012 bid team.
It was not until later that Humaira, who is studyng criminal justice at Westminster University, realised how significant the trip she went on was.
She said: “Now that I look back on it I don’t think we realised how big it was at the time. Back then we were just going to Singapore.
“I look back and think: ‘Oh my.’ I was so fortunate to be given that opportunity.”
Humaira was one of a number of pupils from Langdon School in East Ham who went to Singapore. The wait to find out if London had won was long, even though Humaira got to sit next to David Beckham.
She said: “It was tense. There were young people with the others. Everyone was mixed up. In that moment people just grabbed onto each other. I can’t describe it. It was an all-or-nothing type moment.”
Even now Humaira, who also volunteers and has her own business, is amazed at what the bid has done, both for her personally and for Newham.
She said: “For me it was about focus. To know that we were part of something so big and made a difference, it kept me motivated.
“I never thought this would happen.
“The Park is amazing. We saw the intentions they had at the bid but to see it happening is amazing.”
In the celebrations after London was announced as the host of the 2012 Games, Semine Tatvan was kissed by David Beckham.
Then just 15, Semine was one of the young people who went to Singapore as part of the bid team.
She recalled the moments after London was called out by International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge: “I know I got a kiss from David Beckham, I was stunned.
“I remember Denise Lewis jumping from one table to the other. Everyone was screaming and we didn’t stop. Daley Thompson was in our faces screaming.”
Semine, who was a pupil at Langdon School in 2005, was picked to go to Singapore because of her involvement in sport. At the time she participated in cross-country cycling, netball and trampolining, among others. She still plays netball, and coaches a team in Dagenham.
Semine, of Blaney Crescent, East Ham, has just had surgery but hopes to resume her studies in sports therapy at London Metropolitan University in September.
The 22-year-old has seen the area she lives in change physically over the years since London won the bid.
She said: “It has been amazing seeing Newham changing. I can’t even believe we have got to this stage.
“The Olympics have brought a lot to Newham. Everywhere’s more sport friendly.”