My day at the greatest show on Earth
IT turns out that us Brits are actually capable of being positive and organised when throwing a party for the whole world to enjoy.
The sun even shone for most of my day out at Olympic Park on Monday.
Saving us out-of-towners the (minimal) fuss of calculating an Underground route to Stratford, we were greeted at St Pancras with a 140mph, air-conditioned ‘Javelin’ train service that got us there in seven minutes.
Kitted out with more Union Jack flags than a VE Day street party, my default setting of ‘British pessimism’ turned to ‘gobsmacked awe’ as I surveyed the sporting Mecca around me.
Enveloped by a host of spectacular temples to athletics, cycling and basketball, and drowned in a crowd decorated with colours of every nation, it was clear I was in the Disneyland of sport.
Queues were manageable, food was expensive, but not un-affordable, and the gamesmakers volunteers were as high-spirited as they were helpful.
Approaching the Olympic Stadium clammy-palmed with excitement, I clutched my golden ticket tight, like Charlie Bucket in Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory.
The architecture of the stadium is exceptional, with two tiers of seats cascading towards the running track – a bad view of the action seems impossible – creating the acoustics that allow for an awesome atmosphere.
The night’s highlight was the eruption of noise when Jamaican Usain Bolt lept onto the podium to receive his gold medal for his dominant 9.63secs display in the previous night’s 100m final – directly in front of our seats!
Our athletics hopefuls Holly Bleasdale and Dai Greene were unsuccessful in the pole vault and 400m hurdles respectively, but Greene’s conqueror and gold medallist Felix Sanchez won the hearts of the 80,000-strong crowd with an emotional podium showing.
The 34-year-old Dominican bravely fought back tears during his country’s national anthem, before weeping passionately to the enthusiastic appreciation of the watching world.
Add to that the applause that met successful pole vault attempts by every competitor (including the Germans) and the friendly vibe created by all nationalities (including the Aussies), the whole world was certainly welcomed to London’s greatest show on Earth.
It bodes well for the future that we have so many new venues to blood the next generation of athletes – and excelling in less-accessible sports like sailing and show-jumping will be a realistic goal for many encouraged by our inspirational Olympians.
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Weather for Luton
Thursday 20 June 2013
Temperature: 13 C to 19 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: East
Temperature: 11 C to 19 C
Wind Speed: 12 mph
Wind direction: West