Friday, 17 August 2012

Going to the Olympics

So. A moment of peace.
Time to try and tell you about Going to the Olympics.

FUN! Glad I went, would recommend it to anyone - however much money you have to spend.

Just being in my birth country at the time of the Olympics was great.
British people, with their classic moan-about-something-till-it-starts genes were refusing to get excited until 9 pm on July 27th when the Opening Ceremony burst the pose to smithereens.

I sat on the pavement of Newcastle city center, in front of a big screen and we all cheered and laughed and applauded the Queen parachuting out of a helicopter with James Bond.
Proud to be British at the crazy, stupid moment. No other country in the world would have the Head of State and a fictional character parachuting into the Olympic Stadium.
After that...
Britain got very, very excited, captivated and into the Olympics in every single way.

Watching it by TVs everywhere, at home and in the office and on giant screens in public places such as parks and shopping centers. Getting addicted to watching sports you have never watched before, and going crazy every time Team GB won yet another gold medal. BBC commentators losing it and shouting and jumping up and down for Team GB, radio DJ's screaming "GOLD! GOLD!" in the middle of playing a song as news of yet another medal came in and then the Post Office painting a post box gold in the hometown of gold medalists....
I reckon the sports of cycling and rowing with have booms in Britain after this, because those two sports in particular were really in the spotlight after amazing medal rushes.

It was so strange to see familiar places on TV as Olympic places - the cycling road race was all over Box Hill in Surrey, where I used to go hiking; and the marathon course was where I cycled to college. Although pretty London-centered, the Olympics did spread out to other parts of the country with football games and the rowing and sailing spreading Olympic fever far and wide.

The festival atmosphere in London and surrounding towns was great: like a never - ending weekend. Office workers, scared off by dire warnings of transport chaos, stayed away (probably watching it all on Tv at home while pretending to work-from-home), so the city was full of Olympic visitors wearing their country colors and flags and pulling little wheelie suitcases everywhere.
Olympic volunteers, in purple uniform, were visible at all public places and I never, EVER met one who was grumpy or tired. They seemed to be having the time of their lives along with everyone else.

I went to 2 Olympic Events: Women's Gymnastics at the O2 Arena in North Greenwich, and Athletics (discus throw, sprint, hurdles, shot put) in the Olympic Stadium. I also went to Victoria Park, Hackney, which was a public live viewing event with big screens and entertainment and food.
O2 Arena

Getting near to the venue with lots of other excited people, everyone taking photographs to commemorate their personal journey, the security checks, purple Olympic decorations everywhere, all flowing smoothly and then - INTO the venue....

Olympic Stadium gates.

Big excitement. "We are really here!! AT the London 2012 Olympics! Us!!!!"
And more exciting in the knowledge that all around you, everyone else was having the same feeling: here I am.

Actually inside: well, yes - the sport is a long way away. Specially with my cheap seats which were almost in the back row of the building. You watch most of the action on the big screens and we couldn't see the score board for gymnastics at all. You start thinking about eye tests and glasses upgrade, but this isn't normal life - it's a vast sports venue.
I discovered how far my camera's zoom would go...

We watched about 2.5 hours of sport each time, and at this great distance: that was enough. Then time to get out and enjoy the location with the Olympic atmosphere: shopping and food.
The Olympic Park in east London is vast and beautiful. Landscaped with trees and rivers and flowers. Thousands of flowers. Really beautiful.
Hard to believe this is AT the Olympics!

My knee? It survived. But the thigh muscles were swollen and throbbing by the end of most days and I feel the whole trip has probably strengthened my muscles by default.

I was really impressed with how visitors to the games were helped along the way to having a good day out. At the start there were problems for sure: the empty, wasted seats, the ticketing fiasco at the soccer in Newcastle and in Weymouth attempts to charge people to sit on public ground and watch the sailing.
And I don't think shops and businesses near Olympic areas got the business boom they hoped for: inevitably when you go to the Olympics you GO directly to the venue, stay and eat and shop there, and then go home don't wander nearby areas shopping and eating at all.

And now?
Rio 2016? I can't go there....but....Yujiro's a huge Brazilian soccer fan, and a soccer fan...I am kinda...and well..2014 the FIFA World Cup is in Brazil.
Hmm.....I am seriously thinking now....seeing top level soccer IN Brazil.....At the World Cup....ahhhh.....time to start planning :-))


  1. It sounds like you had an amazing trip. Thanks for writing about it for us.

    Brazil 2014 for soccer...that would be an interesting time to go. Keep us posted on that one!

  2. It was fantastic, wasn't it! I've never known London to feel such a happy place to be. Lucky you for getting athletics tickets: we saw basketball, water polo, and the football bronze medal match and final. It's funny, before you do something like that it seems so far removed, and after you've been you think yes, I'd really like to do this again, why not? Definitely go for Rio!