Terminal 1 has good Air Conditioning which neutralises the sight of baking runways and overheated travellers.
Namibia’s Sports Minister chooses comfort over formality and looks quite relaxed in his electric blue tracksuit. He is very friendly and arrives a short time after the president of Lesotho’s National Olympic Committee.
The arrival of dignitaries adds even greater variety to the increasing numbers of the Olympic Family and it really feels like a homecoming – London’s coming home.
It was in this magnificent city that Volunteers first made an appearance at the Olympics in 1948.
Queues start to form but the accreditation team process the South African men’s hockey team, Iranian table tennis players and the USA water polo team with increasing efficiency.
The welcome Heathrow has given the Family has been noted and commented on by an executive from Reuters. He wires a highly complimentary memo to our Olympic Terminal management, saying "it was the best arrival experience I have ever had for an Olympic Games. From Border Control through Accreditation it took six minutes – super".
It’s not the type of headline you usually associate with Heathrow, but there you are, it’s not the sort of comment that makes headlines either, sadly. All the Heathrow teams are buoyed by comments like that.
A Russian photographer points his huge camera (yes, it’s the ones you see propped up by the side of athletics tracks) in my face as I laminate his certificate. In return I ask for a copy of the portrait and supply him with my e-mail address.
I talk marathon talk with Iceland’s Kari Karlsson. He’s a 2 hour 14 minutes man and says that my personal best of 4 hours 10 minutes is good as well, which is confirmed a short time later by an Olympic Committee official who has a personal best of 4 hours 5 minutes, my kindred spirit on the road.
Although I still have ambitions to crack 4 hours, which is probably why I’ve almost been persuaded to make an appearance in the Seville marathon next February – team leaders, they can be quite persuasive, especially when they give an invite to join them at Richmond Harriers.
Another cracking day on the desks.
‘Have you a chance of a medal?’ I ask the female shooting star standing before me. "Well, I’m the World number one and I have all colours of Olympic medals" (and she says this with great charm and modesty). Welcome to London, Kim Rhode from the US of A, and have a great Games!!
Just after Kim arrived we were introduced to an Iranian fencing team – the variety of competitors we’re meeting is vast.
One of the advantages of being old (so, I’m told) is how you can trawl the memory banks for sporting legends. And so it proves as the Argentinian handball team make a huge (literally) entrance. I mention the names Ossie Ardiles, Mario Kempes, Ricky Villa and their departure is delayed for a few more minutes – sport, the great unifier. Especially when talking about those 1978 World Cup heroes.
The shift ends with groups of New Zealand rowers who are a shoo-in for the Pairs event and the Swiss judo team who are probably the only ones who would be able to wrestle the Pairs title away from the Kiwis.
My head is spinning as the Japanese table tennis team appear in those very smart grey pin-stripe jackets. I really want one, please.
A group of tired Colombian track athletes advise me to learn Spanish, which I will!! These are the women’s 4x 100 metres relay team and look as if they could run the marathon legs off me even after the 12-hour flight they’ve just endured.
Next up is Mauro di Silva, the Brazilian world number one indoor long jump specialist who, with his coach, are so pleased to be here in London. But not half as pleased as I am to shake both their hands and send them off with the plastic tabs hanging from their necks. I’ll be checking out how Mauro does.
Towards the end of the shift as the day quietens down I take the opportunity to read Ian Bell’s article on Volunteers in the Sunday Herald (geez, I thought you’d never get here, ed).
The article deserves a response but I’ve been duped into being force fed Big Macs with a double cheese topping, enslaved here against my free will until the chestnuts start to fall from the trees. I’ll get back to you, Ian.
But for now I’m too busy having a rare old time.