Manc girl in the big Olympic city
Like most people we spectacularly failed to get Olympic tickets (other than men’s and women’s semi final tickets for Old Trafford), however I did manage to get tickets for the big concert in Hyde Park – a band representing each of the four nations – which coincided with the opening ceremony. And I’m fortunate to have in-laws who live on the road race and time trial cycling routes.
If the photos cropping up on Facebook are anything to go by, lots of you were much luckier than me and have Olympic memories which include beach volleyball on Horse Guards Parade, swimming at the Aquatics Centre and the opening ceremony at the Olympic Stadium.
However, for the record – this my diary of six days in London 2012.
Hyde Park Concert – Friday July 27th
Fully prepared with a Duran Duran t-shirt, a London A-Z and a kagool, me and my friend (and 4Manchester Women guest blogger) Cat headed out across London to see The Stereophonics (Wales), Snow Patrol (Northern Ireland), Paolo Nutini (Scotland) and Duran Duran (England).
London appeared to have been branded with the same colour palette as a packet of Opal Fruits. There were Olympic volunteers and security staff everywhere who out-numbered visitors on a ratio of at least 3:1, but they all matched and looked very colourful.
Like the little boats at Dunkirk, every available London bus (vintage included) had been drafted into action to ferry people around the city, and the way finding and signage around the city was a triumph. Anyone who did get lost was quickly scooped up by enthusiastic volunteers who were delighted to have something to do.
The buzz of London 2012 – an Olympic city was amazing.
While it took us over an hour to get through security, which meant we missed Paulo and the first four Duran songs, once inside, the sun started to shine and the bands were on good form.
Watching the Olympic opening ceremony on the Hyde Park big screens to a live sound track of Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol is a memory which will stay with me forever, and while the crowd loved the opening ceremony – they proved the common held theory that no one knows the second verse to ‘God Save The Queen’!
Our taxi driver however thought that the opening ceremony was rubbish – because the musical montage didn’t include any Phil Collins!
Men’s Cycling Road Race, Bushy Park – Saturday July 28th
A twenty minute route march to our predetermined observation point set off a coughing fit (I’m currently on the tail end of whooping cough) which meant I missed Team GB whizz past the first time.
After reviewing our tactics we chose a different place to watch them come back from their circuits of Box Hill.
Five minutes of speeding support cars and Police motorcyclists high fiving and videoing the crowds later, this was our chance to roar at Cav, Wiggo, Froome and Miller as they sped past, 50 seconds off the pace and with not very far to go. Bummer
Women’s Cycling Road Race, Bushy Park – Sunday July 29th
We regrouped the next day and stood in the rain at the entrance to Bushy Park for the Women’s Road Race. Things took a dramatic turn as one of the cyclist crashed down on the corner, slipping on the wet road.
We repositioned again for the inbound part of the course – but mistimed our arrival. Under a huge fork of lightening the three front runners, including a Brit came powering through the torrential rain. The crowd ignited.
We dashed into the local church (tea, coffee and biscuits provided) to watch Lizzie Armitstead take a brilliant silver medal. Apologies if I uttered any bad language – it was all in the spirit of encouraging Lizzie across the finishing line!
On the hunt for Olympic tickets – 11.30pm Sunday July 29th
I cannot believe that I was actually on line on the London 2012 web site when an additional 3,000 tickets were released. Unfortunately, in the ten minutes it took to decide what we wanted to do, all the tickets were gone. Grrrrrr!
Soaking up the Olympic atmosphere – Monday July 30th
After our epic fail to get Olympic tickets, we decided to go into the city to soak up some Olympic fun. The South Bank of the Thames looked amazing and was full of street performers and tourists with national flags and painted faces.
We found a brilliant spot in the sunshine in front of the best big screen in London – right next to the huge Olympic rings hanging under Tower Bridge. Who’d have thought Water Polo and Gymnastics could be so entertaining!
We waited until it was dark before taking a boat back down the Thames, under all the bridges lit up specifically for the Olympics. London never looked more stunning!
Women’s Time Trial – Tuesday July 31st
Bit of a theme emerging – rain, someone jumping out in front of me at a critical moment etc. etc. But notwithstanding we still caught some fabulous action.
Men’s Time Trial – Wednesday August 1st
Right, this was it – last chance. This time, the race ran right along the end of my in-laws road. This really was the Olympics on your doorstep!
Tactics = watch the cyclists start at Hampton Court on the telly, leg it down the road to find a good spot and then shout at Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome until our lungs burst. Good plan!
This time we were behind barriers so no one could stand in front of me. We were on the right side of the road. My camera was fully charged and I’d tested and double tested my shot.
The crowds were enormous.
I was standing next to a man with a radio – at the 18km mark BW was already 11 seconds ahead. Come on Bradley Wiggins.
There was a massive cheer for Chris Froome.
Four more riders to go.
And there he was – and I got my picture – THE picture!
Then somewhere, from round about my knees a noise started to grow. It rumbled around my lungs and almost in slow motion, as Bradley disappeared, it emerged as an ear shattering “GOOOOOO-ORRRRNNNNN” which along with the rest of the crowd must have literally blown him down the road.
Awesome! Absolutely Bloody Awesome!
So that was our London 2012 week. The good, the bad and the absolutely bloody awesome! Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, I hope you’re having an absolutely bloody awesome Olympics too!
Alison x (your 4Manchester Women Editor)
Photographs: Alison Staples, Duran Duran
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