I didn’t apply for London Olympics 2012 tickets. Paralysed by indecision and too many events, I passed. So I, like most Londoners – and many athletes’ families, as Sir Chris Hoy’s parents pointed today – will be watching the Games on the telly come August.
So when my best friend Clare mentioned she had two spare tickets to watch her running a 4x100m relay at the completed Olympic Stadium in Stratford, East London, last Sunday, lil’sis & I jumped at the opportunity. Althought to be honest, if Clare had said she was running around Walthamstow Dog track, I’d have crossed London to see her there too.
I’m insanely proud of her: she’s been taking part in the Olympic Association’s charity Gold Challenge, which has a tripartate aim to raise awareness of the Olympics, raise sport participation levels and raise money for charities. With her local team from Highgate, the Torch Bearers, they have been raising money for their chosen charity, the NSPCC, and participating in a different Olympic medal class each week. She’s done everything from table tennis to boxing in an East London ring. When I say that Clare & I distinguished ourselves athletically by being stalwarts of the second rounders team at high school, then you’ll have an idea of our general levels of sportiness. (For US readers, that basically means we were crap.)
So the icing on the cake for all the teams around the UK taking part in Gold Challenge, was being able to take part in a 4 x 100m relay on the actual Olympic athletics track in the main stadium. Bloody amazing. Watching little children, adults, the fit and the unfit all running their hearts out over the stages was a surprisingly emotional experience, and I am so glad we were there to cheer Clare & her team on.
We were told by security that the event was being treated as the first proper run through of the security procedures, and it all seemed to run like clockwork for us. (Although there were quite long lines for security, but that’s because not all the available lanes were open.)
It was pretty extraordinary walking through the Olympic Park too. As you can see from the photographs, it’s still partly under construction, but the main buildings are all completed, and the main infrastructure is all there. There are what seems like hundreds of security X-ray machines, and tented areas to process attendees. Lil’sis can’t stand for long, and the Accessibility procedures were fantastic, whizzing us through a separate entrance with care and consideration.
Having been somewhat underwhelmed by the prospect of the 2012 Olympics, I’m all fired up. The Olympic Park looks amazing, and I can’t wait. (And someone please enlighten me as to what that helter skelter above, by the Stadium, is for. I’m pretty sure it’s not an Olympic sport. Yet.)