Mitcham’s Matt Jafari experienced a once in a lifetime opportunity on Saturday as he helped revive the London 2012 spirit at the Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games.
The 21-year-old works as store lead at the Wallington branch of Sainsbury’s in Sutton and led out the finest long distance runners onto the track at the Olympic Stadium.
Jafari, of Middleton Road, performed his role in front of thousands of onlookers eager to relive the London 2012 excitement in the capital and is certain he will not forget the experience any time soon.
The likes of London 2012 Olympic champions Greg Rutherford and Jessica Ennis-Hill returned to the scene of their triumph from three years ago while there was also double delight on Saturday as sprinter Dina Asher-Smith and long jumper Shara Proctor broke their own British records within two minutes of each other.
“I was really excited about leading out the athletes, it’s something different that I’ve never done before,” he said.
“I did have an Olympic ticket three years ago but I couldn’t make it in the end so this is good chance to catch up on what I missed out on.
“I was third in the UK at Under-17 100m but I stopped running. So it’s nice to come and have my own moment on the track.
“It really helps your confidence knowing that people care about you and have offered you a special weekend. It’s been really nice.”
Jafari was one of 30 Sainsbury’s colleagues from across the UK to enjoy a VIP weekend which also included a trip on the London Eye, a bus tour of London and a meet and greet with athletes such as Commonwealth Games 800m silver medallist Lynsey Sharp.
He was nominated after he offered to help pay for a customer’s shopping earlier in the year after she found herself short of money.
“A customer came in one time and they couldn’t afford to buy their shopping so I basically spoke to them and said I would pay for their food,” he explained.
“I felt quite bad and that’s what it’s all about, helping other people out. And then the next day she sent a letter saying I had helped her out.
“I just wanted to help her out, she’s a regular customer as well. She didn’t have enough money so I thought I’d help her out.
“I felt happy when I got nominated. It’s nice to get recognised although that’s not why I did it in the first place.”
Sainsbury’s is a proud partner of British Athletics. The partnership reflects Sainsbury’s wider commitment to inspiring healthy lifestyles for all, and complements grassroots campaigns such as Active Kids and the Sainsbury’s School Games. www.sainsburys.co.uk