Meet the volunteers who helped to make the London 2012 Olympic Games a success.

George Hoy

Volunteer at Olympic stadium athletics

George, a 16-year-old schoolboy, has perhaps the best gift any volunteer could receive: Usain Bolt’s cap.

George was assigned as Bolt’s 'box carrier’ at a heat for the 200m on Tuesday. George’s task was to carry out a box into which Bolt puts his tracksuit and other items before competing. The volunteers pick lots to see which athlete they are assigned and George picked Bolt.

“He came out and he had a big rucksack on and he said to me 'what’s up’ and he put his rucksack in my box,” he said.

“He was getting his blocks ready and warming up and as he came up to me, he gave me 'knuckles’ — our hands tapped each others and then as he stripping to his running kit, I said: 'I like your hat’ and he said: 'Would you like it?’

“I replied: 'yes please’. He handed it over there and then. And as he did so, the crowd went a bit mad because they saw him give it to me.”

The cap, with Jamaica and London 2012 written on it, will now be framed and kept for ever. George, from South Woodford, in Essex, is a county standard, middle distance runner. His name was put forward by his coach at the start of the year and after a series of trials, George was selected for the volunteering team.

“Bolt was just really nice, really friendly. Like a normal person,” said George.

“I was lucky I got him in a heat. I think he would have been more focused in a final.”

Niki Fisher

Lifeguard at the aquatics centre

It may seem odd that the world’s best swimmers and divers need lifeguards. But the London 2012 pools are no different from leisure centres up and down the country. Events can’t take place without rescue swimmers at the ready.

Mr Fisher is one of a team of about 150 lifeguards on duty at the various aquatic pools used for diving, swimming and water polo. For him, it has been the greatest honour and vindication of years of training.

“Obviously they are world class athletes,” said Mr Fisher, “But there is always the potential for every eventuality.”

He is a duty manager at a leisure centre in Bexleyheath, south-east London, who built up days in lieu and added it to his annual leave to work at London 2012 for free.

Mr Fisher, 28, who lives in Eltham in south London, said: “I just really wanted to be part of the Olympics. Yesterday I turned up for my work shift at the leisure centre wearing my volunteer’s uniform and they went: 'wow. You are actually doing it. I can now say I am an Olympic lifeguard. That is special.”

Stefan Kunstmann

Volunteer at Weymouth with responsibility for VIP guests

Mr Kunstmann’s abiding memory of these Olympics will be the Duchess of Cambridge asking him where to find the tea bags and milk so she could make herself a cup of tea.

At the time the Duchess was aboard the 52-ft motorboat chartered by the Olympics organisers to allow VIPs the chance to witness the sailing at close quarters.

Mr Kunstmann’s role, unpaid of course, has been to look after the dignitaries and explain to them the rules of Olympic sailing and what is going on while they watch.

“The Duchess was incredibly nice and totally normal,” said Mr Kunstmann.

“She was not what you might expect. Kate even made her own tea. She asked me where to find certain things like milk. She didn’t ask me to get the teas in and that was really funny.” Prince Philip enjoyed his first day at sea so much he came back the next, while David Cameron, the Princess Royal and Ben Ainslie, the most successful Olympic sailor of all time, were also looked after by Mr Kunstmann, 33, who grew up in Germany but now lives in London.

A professional yachtsman, Mr Kunstmann worked at the games for three weeks unpaid. With the Duchess on board, a boat carrying photographers was getting too close and his job was to signal to the vessel to keep its distance.

“The Duchess joked that they were trying to get a bikini shot. I had to laugh about that.”

Helen Flooks

Assistant to the South Korean team Mrs Flooks, 51, has been cheering every gold. But not those won by Team GB but by the Koreans instead. She has been assigned to the Korean Olympic committee, assisting them despite speaking no Korean.

“The best thing is I feel like part of the Korean team,” said Mrs Flooks, from Rode near Bath, who has left her husband at home while she volunteers in London.

“They are so nice and welcoming and friendly. I am learning all about their culture. I’m not really interested in Team GB. Even when Team GB was winning all the golds,, I just wanted Korea to win.”

She has made friends for life and her favourite moment was being presented with an honorary Korean team track suit which she is “really proud to wear” — although not during working hours when she must don her volunteer uniform.

Mrs Flooks has always been keen on sport and she and her husband run a specialist company dealing involved in cycle racing. She has taken time off from work to help out for free, immersing herself in Korean culture and enjoying the specially brought in Korean version of the Pot Noodle, which athletes and officials alike prefer.

Emma Sulley

Volunteer physiotherapist at the aquatics centre

Miss Sulley, who lives in Australia, flew half way round the world at a cost of about £1,000, paid out of her own pocket, to volunteer for the Games.

A trained physiotherapist, her primary role has been to dispense treatment to the one hundred or so teams at the Olympics who cannot afford to bring their own medical back up.

In all, there have been about 1,500 volunteer physios and medics across the Games. She gives massages and sorts out soft tissue injuries, preparing athletes before and after competition.

Miss Sulley, 34, from Perth, signed up for the Games three years ago but quit the UK in January to return home only to come back again.

“My favourite moment was being asked to treat the Team GB water polo team.

It was such an honour.”

Marie Johnson

Volunteer at the Olympic stadium looking after the athletes

Ms Johnson, who lives in Hackney — one of the Olympic boroughs — didn’t want to watch the games on television and didn’t want to be a 'bit part’ player.

A former England schools sprinter, the 53-year-old took two weeks off work as a family therapist , she was desperate to help. She has spent the past week guiding the athletes from the warm-up track and into the stadium to compete.

Two volunteers are assigned to each athlete and a complex process is gone through from first call on the warm-up track to final call beneath the stadium.

The timetable of events is precision run and the volunteers play a critical role in getting the athletes into the stadium with the correct numbers on and sorting out any last minute problems, such as escorting them to the toilets before competition.

Her highlight is escorting Jessica Ennis into the stadium on the night she won gold while her abiding memory is the moment Usain Bolt gave a young volunteer his cap.

“As Usain was stripping off to compete, he took off his hat and gave it to this young person. The boy was grinning from ear to ear.”

Carol Gordon

Ms Gordon, 50, has been involved in coaching volleyball — the indoor variety rather than the beach one — at a national level for almost a quarter of a century and jumped at the chance to volunteer for the Games.

It has been her dream come true and she hopes that British volleyball can use this as a springboard for future success.

Based at Earl’s Court, Ms Gordon’s role is to look after the athletes, learning all the time from the world’s best and hoping to transfer some of that knowledge when she returns to her unpaid day job as coach of England’s under-16 volleyball squad.

Ms Gordon, who lives in London and is about to start a new job at an elite sports academy on the south coast, said: “I meet and greet the athletes and we look after them from the moment they arrive. The highlight for me was meeting the world’s best volleyball player Kim Yeon-koung. She is a phenomenal all round player.”

By Robert Mendick