Friday, April 23, 2004

Sydney Morning Herald piece

Here's a link to a good will-they-be-ready? piece from Apr 24's Sydney Morning Herald, written by an Aussie journalist who was visiting Athens as the guest of the Greek government to advise on media facilities.

Coming, ready or not

Costas' costs...

Hello again

Just back from a few days in NYC. Got talking to a couple of people in a restaurant and at the first mention of the Olympics, they said 'so d'y think it'll be ready?' So it's not just us Europeans fretting then.

But Greek PM Costas Karamanlis is a blissfully unconcerned man. At least he hopes we'll think he is. Karamanlis only came to power a couple of months back, so he's happy to admit that things are way over the £3bn budget ('There are considerable overruns on the initial budgets,' he said - no doubt hoping the previous government cops the blame). But when it comes to the question of things being ready in time, he's a bullish man. 'We will disappoint those who have not realised the Greek people's will and determination to organise an absolutely successful Games,' he growled.

Now that's the spirit! Let's just hope the builders were listening...

Sunday, April 18, 2004

London Marathon

Hey up

Just been watching the London Marathon. Over the last few years I've been down quite a few times to watch in person (I've seen my mum, stepdad and two brothers run it on separate occasions). It's a cracking day out, with one of the best, most friendly atmospheres you ever get in London, but I think I picked a good year to stay in bed and watch it on TV - as it's been chucking it down with rain all morning.

The best story so far is of a 36-year-old optician from Leeds called Tracey Morris. She first ran the marathon a couple of years ago as a charity fun runner - but after finishing in well under four hours, decided to take her running a bit more seriously. It was obviously a good decision - today she knocked over an hour off her previous best (this was only her second marathon) being the first British woman home, in 2hrs 35mins. The really great thing is that that's inside the Olympic qualifying time, and it looks like she'll be picked by the British selectors for Athens. They interviewed her on the telly afterwards and she was, not surprisingly, absolutely over the moon. Seemed like a really nice woman too.

Just shows, you can be 34 years old and still completely change your life in just a couple of years to become a top international sportsperson. How amazing is that? I'm only 28. Maybe if I start now I can make it to the 2008 Olympics. All I need to do now is to pick my sport...

Saturday, April 17, 2004

The very first post...

So hello and welcome to Athens2004blog - my new (and first) blog which over the next few months will offer a fan's eyes view of the build up to the Olympics, before I head from London to Athens to offer a personal lowdown on the Games themselves.

I've visited Athens many times in the last few years (it's where my girlfriend's family are from) so I've been watching with interest to see if it looks like they'll be ready in time for the Games. When we were there last month the city was still characterised by bulldozers, roadworks, builders and a general feel of apathy amongst Athenians - most of whom leave the city every August to escape the stifling heat and are not planning anything different this year.

But I'm not about to jump on the bandwagon of doomsayers who seem convinced that the games will be a flop. There are positives - the new airport is superb, the Games' website ( is impressively well-run and the organisers still seem convinced that things will be ready in time. Let's hope so. Because if it all comes together it should be a memorable and magical 17 days.

Ah well, that'll do for an intro. I'm new to this blog software - so expect things to progress over the next few days. But thanks for reading this far and keep an eye out for updates.