Friday, August 3, 2012

The Gift of Gabby

No nosebleeds for us last night!  Well, not while watching gymnastics, anyway.   My sister splurged on tickets for the Women's Gymnastics Individual All-Around Final and we ended up with MUCH better seats than we had for the men's qualifiers on Saturday.
Entering the inner ring of the 'North Greenwich Arena'
In fact, we were in the fifth row!
The view from our seats
We came prepared to show our support for the American gymnasts
But first, a little pre-competition entertainment, courtesy of the English National Ballet: and excerpt from Swan Lake.

There was a huge roar from the crowd when the gymnasts marched out for their first rotation.  Since this was an individual competition, there were women from several countries that you wouldn't normally see in the team competition, such as Australia, Venezuela, and Poland.  Each country can enter a maximum of two gymnasts in the competition, which was a bit frustrating for Team USA since three members finished in the top 4 during the qualifiers -- and their top all-arounder was the one who finished fourth.  Still, with a Team gold medal already under their belts, we knew this would be a good day to have (nearly) front-row seats for the action.   We came prepared with a giant American flag -- as did many others in the audience.
Gymnasts line up for the first rotation
The US competitors, Gabrielle Douglas and Alexandra Raisman, started out on the vault.
It's hard to know where to look with four different events going on simultaneously.
Who should I be watching?
Beam was the furthest away
Uneven parallel bars were right in front of us (that's Gabby!)
Gabby did very well on her beam routine
But Aly, who was otherwise flawless, had a few bobbles on the beam
The US coach gives Aly a pep talk while Gabby
goes through her floor routine
Gabby gave a great performance on the floor exercise
And Aly was fantastic!  But so was the Russian gymnast who went last...
Team USA waits for the scores
Gabby wins GOLD!!!  Sadly, although Aly had the same score as the Russian gymnast, she placed fourth, due to some complicated tiebreaker algorithm.
Gabby celebrates her gold medal win
Gabby's family was sitting across the aisle from us
The Stars & Stripes sandwiched between two Russian flags
Medal ceremony - sadly facing in the other direction
It was incredible to be there in person to see history being made.  Gabby is third consecutive American to win the Women's All-Around Individual gold medal, and the first African-American to do so.  Way to go!  Best Olympic experience so far!  Not sure how it could get any better, short of winning a medal myself.

Since the weather was decent, we decided to take a ride across the Thames on the Emirates Airline, which reminds me of the now-defunct Skyway at Disneyland -- but quite a bit higher. 
An entirely different way of flying
Despite being a bit afraid of heights, Sonia agreed to give it a try.  The ride only takes about 5 minutes, but the views along the way are pretty good.
Tall ship
The Thames Barrier
The O2/North Greenwich Arena and Canary Wharf
The ExCel center - one of the Olympic venues
Sonia does a good job of hiding her terror
Since we were sitting so close to the uneven parallel bars, we wondered if anyone would see us on TV.  Sure enough, this morning one of Sonia's friend posted this screen shot on Facebook.  You can clearly see Sonia and I seated in the lower right corner of the photo, holding our cameras with the flag draped across our laps.  And that's Gabby Douglas on the bars in the foreground.
We were on TV!
That's the second time I've been on NBC in the past few weeks!  Not bad, especially considering that I don't even live in the US.   And the Olympics are far from over, so who knows where we'll pop up next?


  1. Oh, this is the event I would have loved to have seen. Lucky, lucky you! Thanks for the up close and personal report....



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