Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Life's a beach volley

Robin the beach volley bird
Originally uploaded by athens2004blog.

We've just got back to our hotel from the morning session of the beach volleyball. The picture is a little misleading in that all of the fans were on the three sides of the stadium that isn't pictured. It wasn't packed by any means but there was a decent-sized crowd (a few thousand). We saw four matches (two men's, two women's) and all the countries - Spain, Switzerland, Czech, Japan, France, Germany, South Africa and Cuba - had vociferous little bunches of fans (particularly the Germans who had some impressive choreography going on.).

I'm quite a fan of beach volley, having seen it played at the highest level in Australia, Greece and, oddly, on a rain-swept seafront in Oslo. And no, it's not just good because it's played by beautiful people in skimpy outfits - it's actually a really fast-moving, exciting sport. No, really.

Unlike tennis, the majority of points are won by the team that doesn't serve - the receiving side often cues it up and smashes it before the serving side gets another touch. The women's game is actually slightly better to watch because they don't smash quite as hard so the rallies go on longer.

Again, the crowd were well looked after, with snippets of party music between every point (isn't that off-putting for the athletes?), dancers during breaks and an MC/commentator constantly getting the crowd going. Plus, as it got hotter, they were spraying the crowd with hoses to cool down and there were massive fans-cum-sprinklers at the back of the stands spreading cool mist (which sounds like the name of an after shave - quick someone, copyright it).

Afterwards, we went over to the nearby Sponsor's Park where Alpha bank had set up a thing where you could try out Olympic sports, with the help of some very patient, friendly coaches. We had a go at archery, shooting, high jump, cycling, weighlifting(!), trampoline and, finally, I took on my fiance at fencing. After she took an early lead, I managed to claw back and win 5-3. Yay! The stalls from the other sponsors weren't anything like as enjoyable, so big up Alpha for making theirs so much fun.

Tonight we're off to see some football - Argentina versus, um, can't remember. Australia maybe? Should be fun...


Anonymous said...

Thank you for the creme caramel explanation!
I would like to guess 36 Euros for the lot.

KJ in the USA

(Looks like Robin enjoyed the volleyball! Did he get to try any of the events with you and your fiance?)

diegem said...

For the guess: let's say : 33 euros. But i think it can be much higher when i see the prices of the hotel in Athens (I definitively quit the idea to go to the games this WE). For the beach volley: so it is a real sport?? I'm still wondering.. and next what? the beach soccer (represented by Cantona)? or the brand-new Beach Rugby? I still think beach volley is a swimming suit company sport.. but ok.. so nice to watch..
I quit watching CNN for the Games: they're just unfair. For what I see on BBC, French and Belgian TV: European guests are more than pleased!

Anonymous said...

Any chance you could snap a pic of the infamous bikini dancers who entertain between beach volley matches?

simon wonder wally said...

Right then, the competition. It simlpy can't cost as much as all the folk think because when I went to Crete the same pile of food and drink cost about 5 euros. I'm going for only 14 and a half euros for the lot! Have you worked out what your chances are of seeing any British medal winners?

Anonymous said...

I say 26 euro. Thanks for the updates and pictures. It makes me realize what a bum I am for not making it to Athens...but in a good way.
Andria in Texas, USA

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