As I said before, we’d planned some great things for the summer of 2012, and we were lucky enough to have got Olympic tickets, which really is a once in a lifetime chance. So, on Thursday 9th August 2012, we were off to watch the Women’s 10m platform diving at the Aquatics Centre in the Olympic Park. We’d even bought special Olympic T-shirts for the occasion!
We set off on the train in the morning – although the event wasn’t until the evening, we wanted to be able to soak up the atmosphere beforehand and not be rushing. It was pretty busy, but my mum managed to find an ex-colleague in the seats behind us and I also sat next to a boy who subsequently joined my sixth form – it’s a small world! The train journey was pretty uneventful, except for an incident with the emergency cord in the toilet. Someone must have pulled it by accident or something, so the train was sitting in a station while the conductor announced ‘We are sorry for the delay, this is due to a potential problem in the toilet in coach 6’. Of course, that was our coach, but no-one was in trouble and we got back on our way.
As part of our Olympic tickets we also had free Zones 1-6 Travelcards, so we could go anywhere on the underground for free. The Royal Opera House in Covent Garden had a free exhibition on, called the ‘Olympic Journey’ so we decided to go to that. This was another anxiety pressure point for me, and I absolutely hated standing around in the queue. I was getting really stressed about it, even though we were in it for all that long. We got to the front and I was still a bit stressed, but once we went in I relaxed a little bit, because it was interesting – it went through the history of the Ancient Olympics and then into the foundation of the modern games, before the Torch Gallery, which had all the Olympic torches from across the years. There was another room with more information about athletes and sports I think, and it also had all the medals from the modern Olympics, which was really fascinating. Before we left, we also had the opportunity to have a photo with the 2012 Olympic Torch, and I have inserted mine below:
I actually am not a great fan of this photo at all – I look a bit jaded if I’m honest. However, it does show how curved my back was at the time, and it’s probably the best photo I have that does this.
Once we were done in the Royal Opera House, we went for dinner at my favourite restaurant, Café Rouge. I had steak and chips, as usual, and I may have also had some ice cream for pudding, although I can’t remember if I had pudding at all. The great thing about it being games time is that there were loads of stations around the city where you could pick up maps and get advice on how to get to places, so once we’d finished our food we grabbed a map from one of these and went…I can’t remember if we went anywhere else before the Olympic Park if I’m honest.
Assuming we went straight there, we made our way to Stratford Station on the Tube. It was all very well organised – everything about the Olympics was pink, so we followed the pink channels to leave the station and were directed round towards the gates. I was hit (metaphorically) by a wave of excitement and sort of nervousness, because this really was a great experience and something really exciting for everyone.
Despite all the stories in the news about poor security arrangements and the failure of G4S, the security was all fine. There were few queues when we arrived, because we were quite early, and we got through security easily. To get in we had to cross a sort of bridge and there were Games Makers being really enthusiastic and happy. Once we were through the gate, we had a wander around but it really was like a sea of people everywhere you looked. There were some rather sophisticated port-a-loos (i.e. portable blocks of toilets, not rows of blue cubicles as some people excepted), and the Orbit tower, which was quite strange – we didn’t go up it though, as my dad is scared of heights.
We thought it would be a good idea to get some food well before our event started. Initially we’d thought about going to McDonalds, but it was busy, so we settled for sitting on the floor next to it and buying some sandwiches. There were loads of mini outlets to buy from so my parents got sandwiches from there, and I think I ate a roll from home (I’m a very fussy eater!). I was a little unimpressed by the World’s Largest McDonalds…except it turns out the McDonalds we were sitting by was NOT that McDonalds – it was one of four across the park! It was still pretty big though, but there was no indoor seating (I believe the large one did have seating!)
Once we’d had food etc, we made our way to the Aquatics Centre. They’d really made an effort to make it look great and there were Olympic rings everywhere. We were quite high up, so had to climb some stairs which looked out towards Stratford station. There were some big Olympic rings mounted on the outside wall, which even looked impressive from the inside, but this also drew attention to how high up we were. My dad is scared of heights and he was suddenly very snappy and annoyed. Once we got into the actual ‘stadium’ it was really amazing – this was a place you saw on TV and then we were actually there. We were directed up a few rows and found our seats (with my dad clinging on for dear life, although I felt a bit wobbly too).
We’d got there relatively early, so we saw some of the warming up and videos meant to excite the crowd. But obviously it was the real event that was the highlight on the day. There was an amazing atmosphere, even though there were no Brits in the final and the majority of the audience were British. The divers were amazing – I can’t even dive from the side of the pool let alone a 10m platform with added tricks! The only odd thing was that loads of people left before the medals were presented, it seemed like they wanted to get a head start for seats on the Tube or something! Bit rude, but they missed out on Chariots of Fire at the medal ceremony.
Once it was over it was time to go home. Me and my mum braved the toilet queues, while my dad waited, and then we made our way back to Stratford station. Everyone was being recommended to go to West Ham station as Stratford was congested, but my dad was adamant we’d go back the way we came, so we went to Stratford. The athletics events were still going on and you could hear the roar of the crowd coming from the Stadium. It was quite a nice walk to the station, through a parade of Olympic-y shops, and when we got there, the staff were watching Usain Bolt win the 200m, and the platform was literally empty. We got on a deserted tube train, then changed onto our train home at Victoria. I assume when we got there we went to bed!
On a related note, I have found an article which proposed that there will be an Olympic Museum built in the Olympic Park and opened in 2014 (i.e. this year) – if that’s so then I would definitely go and visit again. (You can read the article here: http://www.insidethegames.biz/olympics/summer-olympics/2012/16025-olympic-museum-to-be-opened-on-olympic-park-after-london-2012) I was so glad that I had the opportunity to go to the Olympics, and it was definitely a happy memory that helped keep me going through recovery.
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