I had to be up before 7am yesterday in order to get showered and dressed before our taxi was at the door. That was the easy bit; the hard bit was getting DD1 up and dressed as well.
DH had cleverly managed to get 2 lots of 2 tickets for the swimming at the Aquatic Centre, but they were 24 hours apart, so we agreed I’d take DD1 one day, and DH would take DD2 the next.
To complicate matters, we also had tickets for a late afternoon gymnastics session at the
O2 North Greenwich Arena. We planned to meet the rest of the family there but had to make our way from the Olympic Park first. I have the directional ability of a mushy pea, so I did fret a little about having to get somewhere that involved significant potential for navigation error, but DH supplied me with routes and reminded me that I was only having to transport myself and a relatively intelligent 10 year old to the venue formerly known as the O2. He, on the other hand, had to drag three kids along with him.
I managed to get both DD and I to Stratford; it was pretty straightforward on the Central line, although was a normal rush hour kind of busy through Central London but once we got to the station, it was impossible to lose the way to the Olympic Park. The Gamesmakers were in fine form and several of them made me laugh out loud with their antics. We got through the security clearance and ticket scanning in about 5 minutes and then it was onward into the park. The place is massive!
We had to go straight to the Aquatic Centre, so didn’t have much time for a look around, but we managed to get a map and work out in which direction other bits of it lay. On the way to the pool we had a waffle; they had a slightly drawn out process of ordering, paying and receiving your food- I didn’t bother waiting for a receipt so I hope no one was fired over that! Then we stopped for the loo (clean with plenty of soap and paper) before presenting our tickets again and being allowed into the Aquatics Centre.
The centre is amazing! We had seats about 1/3 of the way up, right by the start line so had a great view of all the action. To the right was the dive pool. Sadly, we were here to see the swimmers but we were at the right end for the action. The roof is a bit alarming though, it dips down and feels a bit claustrophobic which makes me wonder what it’s like if you are seated right at the top.
We saw a few different heats, men’s and women’s and saw some of team GB qualify for the semis. We also saw Michael Phelps on the starting block (number 4) and in the pool.
There was a lot of atmosphere in the Arena, people were cheering on their various countries, and then whoever was winning and there were massive cheers every time that GB qualified.
I especially enjoyed watching NZ in the 200m freestyle relay; they didn’t qualify but they did really well. I was proud to stand up and scream ‘Go Kiwis and I could hear that I certainly wasn’t alone in there. DD, on the other hand, wanted to crawl under her seat and just pretended she belonged with the group of Americans to the left of us.
We had a great time watching the swimming and it was over all too quickly. We walked out to find the heavens had opened while we had been safely under cover, and of course we didn’t have coats.
But it was lunchtime, and DD had the Golden Arches firmly in her sights, so off we went to stand in line for 20 minutes and chat to more strangers. While we were heading over to the queue, there was a park wide announcement: ‘The drought has been broken: Team GB has won Gold.’
The whole park went a little bit nuts.
Over lunch we shared a table with a lovely Scottish family with a Kiwi Dad. We bored our kids and his wife with tales of how NZ used to have a decent swim team , then said good bye and went our separate ways.
For DD and I, it was time for phase 2 of our day.
Getting to the North Greenwich Arena was easy peasy. The train was full, but not terribly crowded and it’s only a few stops on the Jubilee Line. But first we were herded back to the tubes and trains in a circuit past the shops of Westfield Stratford in an effort to get us to spend even more money. We went nowhere near any shops, I was a woman on a mission to get to North Greenwich.
The Stadium we were after is pretty much right next to the tube station, so it took us only 10 minutes to walk up, go through security and have our tickets scanned. My phone was getting low on battery life, but I got a text from DH saying they had left the house and were heading in. We had almost 3 hours to kill before the gymnastics session started and my feet were killing me, so what did we do?
We went to the movies of course! We saw Ice Age 4 and it was pretty good. I thought I might fall asleep but I didn’t get to shut my eyes even once.
Then it was time to scurry off and find our entrance for our gymnastics seats.
We were aware that our seats were going to be quite high up this time around but weren’t prepared for quite how far up we were seated. We had a great view, and thanks to the big screens we missed nothing but the action was certainly all the way *down there*.
We were watching the Men’s Individual All-Around event so it was all go. You’d watch someone do something, then your attention would be caught by someone else on another bit of apparatus, then they’d finish and you would watch something else for a bit. I found it all a bit distracting, but there was no doubt we were watching world class gymnastics.
The 2 GB men put up a solid fight and produced some great routines, but they guys who got the medals were obviously just that much better. The Japanese gold medal and German Silver medal winners were completely amazing. They took some real chances with their routines but skill and luck were on their side, and it all paid off.
And again the audience was fantastic at supporting all the competitors, not just the British ones. There was a lot of clapping and cheering every time one of the two GB men took to the apparatus, but plenty of noise for everyone else too.
This session finished after 7, so we stopped for some dinner and didn’t get home until 9:30pm. The kids weren’t in bed until after 10 and were bouncing off the walls on the train home.
It had been a big day but was destined to go down as a highlight of our Olympic experience.