Yesterday, DH and I took DD2 and DS to the ExCel Centre to watch the Women’s Table tennis heats. We were prepared for horrific crowds on the tube, and queues to rival anything we’ve ever seen at Heathrow but were pleasantly surprised.
The trip there, across town on the Central line to Stratford, then on the DLR to ExCel, was very pleasant. There were Games Makers everywhere to direct us to the venue.
All we had to do was follow the hands. We arrived at the Royal Victoria Docks in plenty of time, so were able to have some ice cream, and watch a wake boarder for a while. Then we walked around the corner and came across these children mucking about in plastic bubbles on the water.
DD and DS immediately wanted to have a go themselves until someone noticed one of the bubbles had escaped with a small girl in it and was setting off for the dock walls in the distance. Someone jumped in to try and pull it back to safety but they couldn’t catch it.
Eventually, some policemen and someone in a RIB rescued her and she was reunited with her very relieved mother. Our kids were less keen on the bubbles after seeing this.
We made our way to ExCel, went through security ( take off all metal, don’t take bags bigger than 25litres or fluids more than 100ml), showed our tickets and then queued for the venue.
This was quite a long line, but it only took maybe 20 minutes until we were inside and having to present tickets again to get into the table tennis area. ExCel is hosting a number of different sports; we’ll be back there later in the week to watch some fencing.
We bought a bit of lunch and drink but in retrospect should have taken some with us instead, then went into the arena about 10 minutes before the games started.
Now is probably a good time to confess we know nothing about table tennis. We got these tickets, along with some others from the German reselling site, before it became apparent that there would be more mainstream tickets available. We panicked a little and just took what we could get!
There was some information about the sport in the pamphlet that arrived with the tickets, and just before we arrived there had been short film shown to familiarise the audience with the rules of the game. It would have been wise to have got there early enough to have seen this, especially for the kids. But we didn’t, and as we took our seats, the lights dimmed and the athletes came out.
There were 4 matches being played at the same time. Each match consists of 7 games, and each game is won when one of the players reaches 11 points. Some of the ladies were obviously badly mismatched, but a couple were very evenly matched and these games went on for a lot longer than the others.
The whole session lasted just over a couple of hours and getting home again was very busy. We took the DLR , the the Jubilee to Baker Street in the rush hour, so it was a real squash and squeeze. The kids were a little overwhelmed but coped really well with being shoved into a space the size of a small drawer.
People were very chatty with us, I think they assumed I was here on holiday and even on the horridly over crowded tube everyone was basically good natured about the situation. I won’t pretend that I wasn’t happy to get off that train and head home on a less crowded branch of the underground.