03 September 2012

participating in the olympics

I decided that since I was in the right city for the London 2012 Olympics I would take part. So I signed up for spectator for a couple of events still open and, with a bit of bribery, was selected. Woohoo.

On Wednesday, 1st August, Stephanie and I walked to Earl's Court from my house and got in line early to watch some women's preliminary volleyball. We went early as suggested and had loads of time before the matches were about to start. We tattooed our faces with Aussie flags even though the Aussies weren't playing this night. I should have checked the schedule before I bought tickets as when we arrived we found out that the Australian men's volleyball team played the night before and won 3-0 against Great Britain. That would have been a fun match to be at. Anyway, we ate some food and sat on the floor with a whole bunch of others to watch the big screen tv of other olympics going on until we decided to go find out seats. We were pretty high up. Only a matter of rows from the very top but you could still see pretty well which was good. The photo below of just the players on court was about what we could see--in fact, I think we could see a little better than that. For the first match between USA and China we decided to cheer for USA based on the viewing of archery before we left. We'd watched a USA archer, no 1 in the world or something, do superbly well until he came up against the Aussie. He he. 'On ya Aussie! The USA archer then lost with grace and dignity and we were impressed. It was a close match and so went on for a while but made it exciting as we cheered together for USA. I think they play to 25 but of course have to win by 2. See the scoreboard at the end of the final game?

Match 2 was between Brazil and South Korea. I chose to cheer for Brazil mainly because I'd worn the Aussie sporting colours which are the same as Brazil. Stephanie chose to cheer for South Korea...I guess just coz she lived there for 6mths or so and has some friends there and such. It was interesting cheering for opposite teams this time. That was fun too but the games weren't so close and South Korea won the majority of points. In defence of my choice though, Brazil were entertaining. Particularly one woman who saved a wayward dig (flying the ball out the back of the court instead of keeping it near the net) with one of those backward over-the-head flying soccer kicks. And what was more entertaining was that it kept the ball in play AND Brazil won that point. Well deserved. Even Stephanie cheered for that point. It was fun to be a part of an Olympic match and share it with a friend.
The following evening I trained across London to my next Olympic spectator selection. This one was more anticipated because it was a medal match. I went to the ExCel centre to watch the Team Foil Fencing. This was the first time I'd witnessed a proper fencing match. And it was Olympic. I've seen bits of a match on tv once or twice but that's all. It helped though that I did a beginners course at a local fencing club in June so I had a bit of an idea of how it all worked. My position wasn't so great. It was a little hard to view, especially with the participants wearing all white under bright lights. And they are so fast I couldn't follow it. I would just wait for the buzz to say contact had been made and watch the judge to see who was awarded the point. The piste (the strip they fence on) was lit up really cool when not in use and along with the buzz lights alongside the piste would light up to show who made good contact. It was fun to be there and see it but it's not quite as fun watching on your own. Both matches were quite one sided too so it was pretty clear before they were half way through who would win. And since I had no real cheer for any particular country I mostly just sat and watched. I had my own dramas going on too. My camera battery ran out and I discovered I'd not charged the other one yet. I tried with my phone and it froze. When I pulled the battery out to reset it the damn sim card flicked out. I never found it. No sim card, no room to store photos taken. Didn't get to take many photos in the end. I squeezed enough juice out of the camera battery to get one quick one of the medal ceremony but it's a really bad one and you can only just tell what's going on. Nevermind. It was still fun to be a part of it all.
On Tuesday 7th August I took the boy to Hyde Park to see the Men's Triathlon. We went with his best friend and nanny and had a picnic lunch. The first spot we stopped was crowded and we couldn't see the swimming leg. We could barely see the cycling leg as they rode past just a few metres away. So we went down to the river where we watched the rest of the race. We stood up on the hill a bit but could see the triathletes cycle past on the other side of the river and again as they came over the bridge. The boy was very much into cheering for Great Britain. I sat him up on my shoulder as they went past the places we could see them and I'd tease him by shouting "Go Australia" and waving my home made flag. He would then scream "Go EngALaaaaAAaand!" and wave his Union Jack flag which I bought him a few days earlier. The running leg actually came down the hill nearby and along in front of us but the part in front of us was that packed with people you couldn't see the triathletes go past. The boy continued cheering and I'd throw in my Aussie cheer every now and then. He definitely cheered stronger and longer. He kept asking me, "Do you think they heard me?" It was fun how into it he was. I think his cheering helped because, although we watched the race finish and had no idea who won, when I later looked it up Great Britain got 1st and 3rd and the Aussies were further down the list.

It's been fun to be a part of the Olympics and get involved more than the usual watching it on tv. It's been particularly fun to share it with the boy; showing him the different sports, watching together, cheering for our respective countries, and explaining various things to him. It's his first Olympics so it's all fun and exciting for him. I've seen many more so it's great to share in that fresh excitement.

Last week the Paralympic games started and I made sure I watched the opening ceremony as a friend of mine was in the performance. Being one of the crowd there was no way I could spot her even though I knew where abouts she'd be. It's been interesting watching the games as I find it fascinating to see people do these things with clear bodily limitations. It's also interesting to see some games that just don't get played by the able-bodied--like wheelchair basketball. I decided to see if I could find a ticket to go see something live for this 'lympics so this week I'm going to go watch Boccia played by athletes of various gradings. Should be interesting. Might make me miss my family too as my younger brother and I started playing it more often in the back yard a bit before I moved to the UK. Ah memories. I'm glad I'm making some Olympic ones too while I'm here.

No comments: