Mentioning the Rio 2016 Olympics was quite a stroke a genius.
Because it finally gives me the opportunity to share our experience of the London 2012 Olympics… As soon as the games ended (more or less), we went off to Belarus… and since them, it hasn’t really seemed appropriate to do so.
We had a great time. Truly. Yep, we had to adapt our journey to work (an earlier start!) but that’s about as inconvenient as it got.
On 21 July, I trodded off, early in the morning, to see the torch in Greenwich. A beautiful morning and a decent crowd for Sir Robin Knox-Johnson.
For the opening ceremony, we went to the big outdoor screen in Greenwich, set up by the river front with deck chairs and food stalls. That was brilliant. So many people and so many different nationalities. What an evening… and we could see the smoke from the fireworks, drifting in the sky from the Olympic Park. I’m sorry about the quality of the photo there… it was dark, there were a lot of people about and I was terribly excited.
We went back to the big screen a couple of times to soak up the atmosphere – Pimms and deck chairs really helped!
On 1 August, we went off to Wembley, taking the afternoon off work. Great fans. Lots of fun. A great atmosphere, which (almost) made up for a poor game. Although we were neutral, we were sitting amongst a majority of South Korean fans and we joined in with the singing.
On Saturday 4 August, we went to Wimbledon for the women’s final. Now… that was exciting! I’d never been to Wimbledon. So imagine what it felt like, within minutes of being there, to find myself within inches of Serena Williams! The woman is awesome (she’s number one again by the way). She exudes power and strength. She was going to win that game. Such concentration. Maria Sharapova never had a chance (of course, I could tell all that from my 15 seconds exposure to Serena). Star struck? I think so.
Wimbledon was fun. We had a tremendous day out. Pimms, sun and lots of great tennis. We saw the mixed double quarterfinals with Murray and Robson powering through against Hewitt and Stosur; the women’s singles: gold medal match (Serena Williams vs Maria Sharapova), the men’s doubles: gold medal match (Bryan/Bryan vs Llodra/Tsonga) and we had a bonus game, the women’s doubles: semifinals (the Williams sisters vs Kirilenko/Petrova). The day went really quickly. And watching medal ceremonies really made it Olympic special.
On our way to Earls Court for the volleyball, on 5 August, we stumbled across the women’s marathon. By chance. This was towards the end of the race, and we only had to wait 10 minutes or so but we saw a couple of runners. So many people lining up the street… I think that’s when I realised it was all going to be okay. London would get behind the Olympics…
The volleyball was a big unknown for us. We knew very little about the sport and thought we should find out more. Risky. But it paid off. It’s fast-paced, highly tactical and fun. We had a great afternoon. We got tickets for the women’s volleyball and saw Team GB vs Japan and Italy vs Russia.
Having, by chance, come across the women’s marathon, we decided to make the trip into town for the men’s marathon on Sunday 12 August. We had a good spot and saw most runners, if not all (do you know, looking at that picture again, it looks like that first runner is from Finland!).
Those two weeks were fast paced. I’ll say it again, we had fun. And now we have the memories. I remember rushing in from work to switch the tv on and spent many hours watching our special Olympic channels. We managed to watch every single sport at least once. I remember the sunshine; the helpful friendly volunteers; the roads closed to traffic, filled with locals; tourists and smiles. Above all, I remember amazing and inspiring athletes.
We couldn’t get any Paralympic tickets sadly (everybody got onto that bus when they realised they’d made a mistake by not getting Olympic tickets) so we ended up watching as much as we could on tv.