BRIDGE DAY FOR LONDON 2012 ATHLETES
The impact generated by the London Olympics and Paralympics, not just in and around London, but right across the whole of the country, is something that will live long in the memory for all those fortunate enough to be a part of it, and on Saturday afternoon 13 of the athletes who took part at the games were guests of the club ahead of our 4-1 win against Norwich City.
The Olympians, along with the man that made it all happen, Lord Coe, were greeted by club chairman Bruce Buck and chief executive Ron Gourlay before meeting a couple of former Stamford Bridge favourites, Kerry Dixon and Ron Harris.
Lora Turnham, who competed in both the indoor and outdoor cycling events at the Paralympics, brought her clearly thrilled father, Anthony, along for the day.
Lora, who lost her sight when she was five years old due to a hereditary condition which also affects her mother and two brothers, recalled with fondness her Paralympic experience, before turning her attention to the Blues.
'It was really special, I don't think I'll ever forget it, the support we got from the crowd was absolutely phenomenal,' she said. 'The fact that people came along to watch me, and to cheer me on, was a bit overwhelming.
'I raced in the Velodrome, and we'd heard a lot about the atmosphere there, but I also raced on the road, and the fact people came down without tickets just to be a part of the whole atmosphere and cheer us on was just brilliant.
'I remember getting the invite [to the game] a few weeks ago and just screaming. To be able to go on the pitch at half-time as well is something I've always thought would be really cool.
'It's been a great start to the season, the first couple of games I wasn't able to watch because I was preparing for my events, but since then I've really got back into it.
'My favourite all-time player is [Gianfranco] Zola, I remember coming here to watch him and he was amazing, but I really like [Frank] Lampard as well. Out of the new signings I've been really impressed by [Eden] Hazard, he's going to be really good for us.'
Anthony, unlike most other parents cheering their children on at the games, had the added complication of having to balance out viewing time between his daughter and her brother, Roy, who was part of the men's Paralympic football team.
He admitted it had been a stressful time, but was delighted to be a guest of the club for the day and see a different side to the matchday experience than the one he has grown accustomed to over the years.
'I was one of the few that ended up with two competitors, so I had to run between venues to watch them both, but it was very exciting, as well as very time-consuming,' he explained.
'Generally we managed to have about eight family members watching, but some days we had up to 12 of us.
'I've had a really enjoyable day; it makes a big difference not having to cram in through the turnstiles at the Matthew Harding Stand, so it's really nice.
'It was great to see Ron Harris as he played in the same side as my favourite ever Chelsea player, Bobby Tambling, who was a great inside-forward all those years ago.'
For rowers Alex Gregory and Andrew Triggs-Hodge, London 2012 will always hold special memories, as both men achieved the ultimate aim for any athlete by winning a gold medal in front of a home crowd.
For Triggs-Hodge, the success was made all the more sweet as it ensured he became a double Olympic champion following his first gold medal which was acquired in Beijing four years previously, and he spoke passionately about using his success to inspire the younger generation.
'The responsibility of having a gold medal is a huge one,' he stressed. 'We're in a privileged position to be able to go into schools and ensure the medal goes out to as many people as possible. Every time you bring it out kids get excited, so it's amazing to see how much of an impact it can have.'
Gregory, meanwhile, echoed those sentiments, while setting his sights firmly on the Rio de Janeiro games in 2016.
'It was amazing to be a part of it and now two or three months later we're still feeling the repercussions by going into schools and talking to young children as it played such a massive part in their lives,' he said.
'Winning a gold medal in our home country is something that will never be topped, we're so lucky to have done it, but obviously I still want to try again in four years' time, although there will be slightly different motivations.'
After the points were secured, the scorer of our second goal on the day, Frank Lampard, popped in to say hello, while the day was rounded off with the Champions League trophy being brought into the suite in order for the athletes to have their pictures taken with them.
Coe, a lifelong Chelsea fan and Stamford Bridge season ticket holder, received many plaudits for the role he played, firstly in bringing the games to the capital and secondly in executing the whole event with such precision, and it was only fitting that the last word, much like at the games, went to him.
He admitted that only now is the magnitude of what was achieved over the summer beginning to sink in, before assessing the club's start to the season.
'When the games were going on and you're in the Olympic Village, you're slightly cocooned,' he said. 'It's not until recently, when I've been coming here to watch games and going in my local pub, that you realise what a wonderful time people had, and for that I'm really pleased.
'The whole objective was to deliver something that made people happy, which I think we did. Wherever I go, people talk to me about their Olympic experience, and the great thing about it is that people the length and breadth of the country helped us do it, it was the biggest national effort I can ever remember and I hope we can hold on to that kind of spirit.
'It's been a great start; we're playing some really nice football, moving the ball around quickly. It will take a bit of time, but we have quite a few new faces and they're blending well and I'm really pleased for Robbie [Di Matteo].
'The resilience which served us so well during last season's Champions League run has been evident again, and even when we haven't been playing particularly well we've been able to grind out results.'
The full list of those who were greeted by the Stamford Bridge crowd is:
Alex Gregory - rowing
Andrew Triggs - Hodge - rowing
Robert Williams - rowing
Lutalo Massop - Muhammad - taekwondo
David Florence - canoeing/slalom
Hannah Macleod - hockey
Thomas James - rowing
James Foad - rowing
Stephen Osborne - athletics (pictured above)
David Wetherill - table tennis
Aaron McKibben - table tennis
Lora Turnham - cycling
Harriet Lee - swimming