London 2012 : Bristol Duo Telling the Olympic Story

Archived News Post from 2011. Published on The Bristol Post.

In a little under a year the world’s attention will turn to the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games — and Horfield’s Sam Downie will be there at the heart of the action, after being confirmed as a BT Olympic Storytellers — chosen for his proficiency as a blogger, prolific Twitter user and digital media “citizen journalist”.

Tens of thousands of people from across the country applied to be an official Olympic storyteller — with 100 names finally chosen, of which 50 are familiar celebrities.

Of the 50 non-celebrities, two Bristolians were picked — Sam Downie and Arilda Tymko.

The pair met for the first time this week at the Harbourside’s Watershed digital media centre, to get together over a coffee and “compare notes” on how they will tackle their 2012 Olympic challenge.

Sam, who runs his own digital media agency, says he is particularly interested in covering the Paralympic Games.

“As somebody with disabilities — I have epilepsy and Asperger’s Syndrome — I want to make sure that the achievements of the Paralympians are celebrated.
“I’ve already started making contact with some of the Paralympic athletes, and I hope to interview some of them and follow their stories on my storytelling blog over the coming months.”

As well as being present for the opening and closing ceremonies, the storytellers will also be given tickets for four of the main Olympic events.

“I’m hoping to go along to see the track and field, the swimming, gymnastics and the basketball,” Sam says. “It’s going to be amazing to be there, and I hope my blogging and Tweeting will convey the sense of occasion for those who can’t.”

In his excitement, Sam Downie has already made the journey to Stratford in east London, to check out the progress being made on the Olympic village and stadia.

“It’s looking fabulous already,” he says. “You get the special Javelin train from Paddington, and you’re there at the heart of the games area in five minutes.
“The main stadium, the swimming pool and the cycling velodrome are already starting to take shape. It’s exciting to see it coming together.”

Arilda Tymko says the opportunity to be an official Olympics storyteller fits in well with her “day job”.

The 30-year-old, from Totterdown, works at Bath Spa University as the co-ordinator on the Relays projects.

“Relays is all about getting the university’s students to engage with local communities around the subject of the 2012 Olympics,” she explains.
“For example, we currently have a group of history students who are putting together an education pack, which will be distributed around primary schools in the region ahead of the games, to give young children an idea of exactly what the games mean in their historical context.
“Then we have a group of art and design students who are planning a series of light installations which will run as part of a free street festival in Bath in January.
“So for me, being able to be one of the official storytellers is an extension of my involvement with Relays.
“But I also think it’s important we celebrate the Olympics across the UK — not just in London — and that we record the sense of excitement and occasions in a permanent form so that future generations can relive 2012.
“I want to use the storytelling opportunity to not just focus on the things that are happening in London, but to record some of the things taking place here in Bristol to celebrate the Olympics too.
“After all, this is going to be a once in a lifetime experience — the chances are we won’t be around the next time the games comes to London, so we should all try to make the most of it.”

You can follow the Bristol Olympic storytellers updates online. Arilda’s blog is at while Sam’s blog was at (but no longer in use).

The full report can be read at The Bristol Post, here :

Originally published at Sam Downie.

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