Friday, August 10, 2012

A Walk in the (Olympic) Park

"They're your tickets -- you should go!"

"No, you go.  I'm sure Josh would rather go with you, and your friend will be there."

I'm a bit of an introvert, so after attending 8 Olympic events, two concerts, and the Harry Potter studio tour over the course of 12 days, I was kind of looking forward to a quiet day to myself at home.  Josh was eager to see the Olympic Park, but you can only get in if you have a ticket to an event in one of the park venues.  Since Sonia had yet another pair of tickets to diving in the Aquatics Centre on Thursday evening, I told him he could go in my stead.  Sonia, however, was just as burnt out as I was, and insisted that Josh and I use her tickets and she would stay home.  Josh was none too pleased that neither of us seemed to want to go with him, but I assured him that he shouldn't take it personally.

Sonia did have a point.  It made more sense for Josh and I to go together, and we had discovered at beach volleyball that our friend Katie was also going to be at the same diving event, so we'd have another chance to catch up with her.

Josh worked from home, and we headed out after he had finished with his last of a series of conference calls for the day.  By the time we got to the Olympic Park, we only had about 45 minutes to walk around before we had to line up to get into the Aquatics Centre.  That may sound like plenty of time, but the park is massive and was mobbed with people, most of whom seemed to be trying to walk in the opposite direction. We did manage to walk around a bit and see some of the sights.
A Team GB fan strikes a thoughtful pose
One of several phone-box-inspired sculptures in the park
 It was a warm, sunny day, which was lovely, but made us somewhat reluctant to go into the Aquatics Centre, which is kept heated to 85 degrees for the comfort of the divers and swimmers.  It's pretty miserable for the spectators, though, especially after climbing all those stairs to the nosebleed section.  It was probably closer to 90 degrees up there!  Still, we were at the Olympics, and even though there were no Americans in this competition, it was still fun to be there for the women's 10m platform diving final.
The divers are introduced
You have to be pretty fearless to jump off a 33-foot-high platform into the water, let alone while twisting and spinning in the air on the way down.  Not scary enough?  How about doing a handstand first and then launching yourself off the platform with your arms?
These were some bad-ass ladies!
 The people around us kept gasping every time someone dove, because from our vantage point, it looked like they were going to hit at least one of the platforms on the way down.
Look out!
Fortunately, that was just a matter of perspective.  Nobody hit anything, or even pulled a Feck.  All the divers performed well, but the top three were ladies from China, Australia, and Malaysia.
The Victory Ceremony
Medal winners from Australia, China, and Malaysia
 Fortunately, the diving events go pretty quickly, so we only had to endure the sauna-like conditions for about an hour and a half, and then we met Katie outside by the Olympic rings.  We took some photos with her, but we must have used her camera, so you'll have to take my word for it that she was there...
We were really at the Olympics!
It was a beautiful evening, so we grabbed a late dinner at a stall selling Indian food and then wandered around a bit.
Sunset (and blimp) over the Olympic Stadium
As we walked past the BBC broadcast center, there was a huge crowd gathered outside cheering for someone being interviewed in the center square.
Who is that?
It was Nicola Adams, the first woman to ever win an Olympic gold medal in boxing -- women's boxing was just introduced this year.  As a member of Team GB, she became an overnight celebrity here.  The crowd kept cheering and asking her to show them her medal.  You go, girl!
Team GB boxer Nicola Adams wears her gold medal and a big smile
Up in the booth, Gary Lineker interviews someone on the purple couch
The park is quite pretty when everything is lit up at night.
Stadium lit up after dark
RUN sculpture
The Beatbox
Basketball Arena
We finally headed home when they started herding people towards the exits.  On the way out, we spotted this friendly group of police officers posing for a photo with some spectators.
Doin' the Bolt!
Which reminds me, I have been very impressed by all the volunteers and police officers working at the Olympics.  Across the board, they have been friendly, helpful, and even entertaining -- especially the ones making announcements.  Perhaps you had to be an aspiring stand-up comedian to be issued a megaphone.  In any case, they certainly helped chip away at the stereotype of the British being a generally unfriendly lot that keeps to themselves.  

Some of my American friends worked as volunteers, too.  I found it rather amusing to learn that each volunteer was issued an official London 2012 raincoat and a fleece jacket.  Only in London would that be standard equipment for the Summer Olympics!

1 comment:

  1. I feel as though I were there, Naina! Even felt anxious for the divers - ha!


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