Monday, July 30, 2012

Hoop dreams at our first event

Click any of the photos to see them bigger (they didn't do that on Blogger in 2004...)
So, eight years after I signed off my Athens Olympic odyssey with the men's handball final (*love* handball), my London2012 adventure began at 9am at the Basketball Arena, for a women's basketball double header (China vs Croatia and Turkey vs Czech Republic).

Despite all the pre-Games hoopla about possible transport issues, getting there was straightforward enough. Tube from a mate's at Seven Sisters to Highbury and Islington was fine, as was the train from Highbury and Islington to Stratford. Then after a five minute queue, we were through security and into the Olympic Park.

Here we are, heading in, with the stadium in the background. Now, obviously the only Olympic Park I have to compare London to is Athens, and I was a little surprised by how simple and un-flashy the London site is by comparison. There's a big viewing tower, which is quite a sight, but they're using that to make money (you have to pay to go up) and there are none of the big architectural statements like this amazing walkway which Athens had - which was, like the entire site, paved with marble (long since ripped up).

What the London site does have is amazing green spaces, which we took a shortcut through on the way back to the station after the basketball. Actually, even with the shortcut it was a good 20 minute walk. It's a huge site.

And so to the basketball itself, which was a lot of fun. The Chinese won their game easily, and we stayed for half of the Turkey vs Czech match, which ended up being much closer than it looked at the point where we headed home (our five-year-was shattered by then - not something we had to worry about in Athens).

As was often the case in 2004, some of the most entertaining things happened between the sporting moments - with dance troupes, and an affable US announcer who had people on the big screen kissing the person next to them or pretending to play bongos. All of which made for a lovely atmosphere in a very busy arena (the only empty bits were the athletes/official seats - which, of course, were also the best seats).

Really fun day. Now looking forward to the table tennis semi final at the Excel tomorrow.

(Btw, as I haven't updated this blog in *such* a long time, I'm well aware that very few people will read this. But it's been so nice to be able to read back over all those old August 2004 posts - unearthing so many forgotten memories and details - that I thought I'd bang these quick updates up after every event, just so that I've got them to look back on too. But if you have stumbled upon this somehow, it's nice to have you along.)

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