Saturday, August 4, 2012

Ping Pong

What better way to celebrate your birthday than to attend the Olympic Table Tennis competition?  Yes, Friday was my sister's "29th" birthday, and Sonia happened to have tickets for two different sessions that day - the women's team event at 10 am and the men's at 7 pm.  After assessing our schedule, we realized that would end up being a very long day for us, so we sold the morning session tickets to three of my AWC friends (for face value, of course).  Josh came home early from work, and the three of us set off for the ExCel center, which is just across the river from the O2 Arena in the docklands of east London.
The ExCel exhibition center
There are several different events going on at ExCel, most of which involve fighting of some sort. Wrestling, martial arts, fencing, and...table tennis.
One of these things is not like the others...
Table Tennis!
No nosebleed section in this venue!
Dear Santa: please bring me an Olympic ping pong table
This was round 1 of the men's team competition, where each team of 3 takes turns playing singles and then doubles against the opposing team.  Just like with gymnastics, there are several things going on at once, so it's hard to know what to watch.  And the ball moves so fast, it's easy to lose track of it.  We had a ping pong table at home when I was growing up, so I got to be pretty good at it, but playing against these guys would be like a toddler going up against Serena Williams on the tennis court.
The players enter the arena
Can you guess which match most of the crowd was following?
Hong Kong China vs Brazil
Portugal vs Great Britain
Germany vs Sweden
Egypt vs Austria
As you can imagine, the majority of the spectators were cheering for Team GB, so that was the match they followed on the TV screens.  Sadly, Great Britain lost to Portugal.  Hong Kong made short work of Brazil, and Austria defeated Egypt.
Portugal defeats GB
The Sweden-Germany match lasted much longer than the rest.  So much longer that anyone who hadn't left at the end of the Portugal-GB match started filtering out of the arena, since it was nearing 10 pm.  We were reluctant to go, since both teams were playing so well, but we had a birthday cake waiting for us back home...
Sweden and Germany duke it out
Germany eventually won their match and advanced on to the next round.  On our way out, we spotted the Romanian fencing team, who had just won the silver medal in one of the other arenas.  We gave them a cheer, and they waved to us from the street before posing for photos for some of the staff.
Team Romania poses for photos with their silver medals
We didn't get home until 11 pm, but we still had a quick birthday celebration for Sonia with a coffee and walnut cake I had picked up at Marks & Spencer while we watched Olympic highlights on TV.  I think she's having a pretty good birthday...

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