There are some things you just don’t expect to see again.
They gave everyone an apple and told us not to eat it until later. When later came we all had to crunch together.
I didn’t know what it was during the Paralympic ceremony, but later research has shown that this is a replica of a Marc Quinn statue of pregnant disabled artist Alison Lapper, and was originally displayed on the fourth plinth at Trafalgar Square.
The speed at which this statue appeared was astonishing – it’s an inflatable.
It’s a long old walk around the stadium, and there are a lot of countries and a lot of athletes taking part. Here are a selection of some (yes, that’s right – my first and probably only fashion post).
Mexico had just about the best outfits, ever.
Ireland likely had the biggest cheer per athlete.
So. I went to the Paralympic opening ceremony last night and it was pretty spectacular. I took a lot of photos, had a great experience, and haven’t begun to start collating my thoughts, let alone anything more.
So yesterday I was saying that it was almost the end of a series of Olympic-themed posts and… I score some tickets to see the women’s hockey – this time, actually inside the Olympic park. Very exciting!
I’ll be adding photos of the park in later posts (quick preview – it was an amazing place), and I’ll focus here just on the hockey. Great Britain vs New Zealand – a commonwealth face-off for bronze!
The stadium was packed, fully open-air, and with the weather being a bit of a scorcher, the mood was great.
Not far behind us was a small brass band playing songs, singing, and generally getting the (British) crowd going. I don’t know if they were organised by the Olympics, or just on their own.
Britain won 3-1 and the mostly British crowd went crazy – an overwhelming noise that just isn’t captured on TV:
Apparently Kate Middleton was in the crowd, but you’ll have to switch over to more tabloid channels for that.
I now consider the Olympic ticketing website an Olympic event in itself – it took a full day of refreshing the site to get these tickets. Well worth it though, in the end.
I was lucky enough to get two tickets to see the men’s Triathlon in Hyde Park. This wasn’t in the Olympic stand, but was across the Serpentine in the Lido. It was a great place to watch, and included breakfast – bonus! Around 200,000 people turned up in total (around the whole course) so it was very busy, but thankfully very peaceful in the Lido itself.
Here are the medal winners all nicely lined up – the UK’s Brownlee brothers took gold and bronze, with Spain’s Gómez taking silver.
The Olympic stand, fully loaded:
And of course, the medal ceremony. One of the winners needed medical attention so the ceremony was delayed, and some of the stand had emptied out, but the reception was nonetheless very loud.So having never been particularly interested in sporting events I find myself having seen several over the past week, and having witnessed a gold medal event for my own country, at home. Not bad.
London is going to seem very quiet once this is all over.
So my first foray into the Olympic world and really my first experience of any kind of sporting event.
This was women’s volleyball, played at Earl’s Court. Two games were in this slot – Japan vs Italy, and UK vs Algeria.
The Japan vs Italy game was very good, with a lot of action, and it made complete sense to someone who doesn’t know the rules. Both teams had a sizeable presence in the audience, and it created a great atmosphere.
The UK vs Algeria game was a little flat, I thought. It seemed like half the points (for both teams) were scored through faults and obscure rules that made no sense. The UK (not surprisingly) had a huge presence in the audience, where as Algeria had little, and it felt somewhat one-sided. The UK went on to win the game.
To put this in context, this from the BBC:
Victory for Great Britain over an Algeria side ranked 53 places above them in the world. Superb. What a result that is for British volleyball, they have had no funding for two years and no international experience for three
A leaving note for anyone who may be going here in the future. Transport to the event was good, and security was very hassle-free – you go through an airport-style security scanner, and that’s it. There were no issues with taking a DSLR and zoom lens. Food is limited to snacks, so eat outside at Earl’s Court – there are plenty of restaurants.
A last minute decision to check out the men’s road cycling took me to South Kensington, a few minutes distance before the end of the race. Hopes were high for the UK team after winning the Tour De France the previous week.
Countless police motorbikes went past, each soliciting a cheer from the crowd, and sometimes a wave from the rider.
Finally the cheers became sustained, and before you knew it, cyclists were whizzing past too fast to even see who they were. I managed to get a lucky (if slightly blurry) snap of Bradley Wiggins, the first UK winner of the Tour De France.
Sadly the UK team didn’t win, but it was fun to see the event take place, even if it was literally over (for me) within a minute.