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...