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London 2012 Olympics: A Photo Essay

By on Aug 3, 2012 in Travel | 8 comments

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Screams, chants and bellows surrounded us, as we leant forwards, huddled under an umbrella, looking up at the giant screen. As the boat crossed the third line, we began to cheer too, urging our team on. Moments later, we were rewarded and the crowd erupted as Team GB got their first gold medal of the Olympic Games.

Short of being at Eton Dorney, sitting in the Park Live area of the Olympic Park was the best place to be to witness that first gold being won.

 

 

olympic park screen

Park Live at the Olympic Park

We had arrived at the Olympic Park only moments earlier, full of anticipation and excitement. Ever since my Olympics tickets arrived, all pretty and pink in their own special wallet, I had been counting down the days.

London 2012

Arriving at the Olympic Park – I’m just a little bit excited to be there!

With amazingly trouble-free transport there (well done, Get Ahead of the Games!) and smiling volunteers to welcome us, whisk us through security and point us in the right direction – and now a gold medal, it was a flawless start to our day of Olympic Games.

Olympic Park

The fun, colourful concourse in the Olympic Park

Flushed with victory, we wandered around the park, which is the size of a small town, only more futuristic buildings and more open space. We gazed in awe at the various structures, all of which will be the backdrops to some unforgettable moments. Then we prepared for our main event: the Women’s Basketball. A friendly police officer took our photo outside the arena, and then it was game on.

Basketball arena

More excitement outside the basketball arena

Our seats were high up and in the centre, so we had a brilliant view of the entire arena. There was plenty to entertain us as Brazil and Australia warmed up and the crowds flocked in.

Olympic Venue

Taking our seats in the Basketball arena

Soon, the game started and to add a bit of dynamism, my friend and I decided to support opposing teams. I took Brazil, she backed the Aussies.

Basketball at London 2012

Brazil (green and yellow) and Australia (yellow) prepare to do battle

If I didn’t believe in serendipity or the six degrees of separation before, I most certainly do now. The best things in life are often totally unexpected, and so it was that while we were enjoying the game from our perfectly adequate vantage point, a friend of a friend of a friend appeared and produced, magician-like, a trump card. He was working at the Olympics and had managed to get us court-side seats.

Basketball London 2012

Watching the game from our court-side seats

From half-time onwards, we had the best seats in the whole arena. I felt like I was dreaming: we were so close to the players that I could hear what they were saying to each other. I was also sitting rather rigidly at first, aware that I would be visible on TV for pretty much the whole time. My cheering for Brazil also became fairly timid, as I found myself surrounded by a posse of very passionate Australians.

Women's basketball Olympics

A tense moment as Australia takes possession of the ball

After a few minutes, however, I was lost in the game, cheering on Brazil, not caring what I looked like, or if the mad Australians heard me. Brazil played valiantly, but in the end, the Aussies won and soon, we were on to the next match: our very own Team GB taking on the mighty Russia.

Olympics Basketball

Team GB vs Russia

This time there was no timidity on my part: along with more or less everyone else in the arena, I whooped and bellowed my lungs out, willing Team GB on to victory. I still couldn’t quite believe our stellar view – I was able to see every nuanced expression on the players’ faces, and we could listen in on the rapid team talks during time outs.

Olympics Basketball Team GB

Will it go in?! (It did – points to Russia)

It was a fierce battle, with the points zinging, and right until the last second, it looked like GB might win. But with a hefty lot of 3-pointers, Russia claimed victory – and all credit to them: the atmosphere in the arena was far from in their favour, and the mostly-British crowd still gave our girls the biggest cheer.

GB crowds at the Basketball

Go Team GB!

On the super-speedy Javelin train back into central London, I was just gazing into space, a stupid smile on my face as I took in the day’s events. I idly listened to the chatter around me, when I picked up on a particular conversation.

“So what event did you go to?” someone asked, conversationally.

“Oh, we didn’t,” came the reply. “We just had tickets for the park. But it was wonderful. So wonderful. Just to be there, the atmosphere… we had a great time. And when we’re even older and wrinklier than we are now, we can say: we were there.”

Olympic crowds

Crowds look on as Heather Stanning and Helen Glover row to glory. Olympics 2012: I was there.

This brief exchange filled my heart with almost inexplicable warmth. But that was the most wonderful thing about the whole day: the friendliness, the smiles, the conversations, the unity of people in the Olympic Park. And one day when I am old, I will say with pride: London 2012? Yes, I was there.

 

8 Comments

  1. Krista

    6 August 2012

    Post a Reply

    I absolutely LOVE this, Katy! :-) I could feel everything you were experiencing and read the whole thing with a huge grin on my face. SO glad you were there. :-)

    • Katy Stewart

      6 August 2012

      Post a Reply

      Thank you Krista :) I was still full of excitement from it all when I was writing, it was just the most amazing day :)

  2. Cathy

    6 August 2012

    Post a Reply

    Gorgeous post Katy. I love your photos and I can understand your excitement at having been there.

    • Katy

      20 August 2012

      Post a Reply

      Thank you Charu, it was one of those things I will remember forever, I felt so lucky to be there, and I’m glad I was able to transport you there virtually to get a taste of it!

  3. Derek

    24 October 2012

    Post a Reply

    Great photos, That afternoon I was doing my second shift as a gamesmaker, (I was at the basketball arena all during the games,I worked opposite where you were taking your photos, and did look if I was in any of them , sadly no,) but were you aware that Michelle Abama, and Prince Albert of Monaco had been there as you were taking your seats?

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