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image from the independent

If I were still in London, I would have thought about going too. And I’ve never gone to a football match.

On Tuesday night, France came to Wembley to play a football match with England, four days after the terrorist attack in Paris, during which their own game with Germany was under attack at la Stade de France. While most people will agree that sports and politics shouldn’t mix, this time

football itself has been rather thrust forward into the vanguard of the response to the horror in Paris.

Kudos to the FA their french counterpart and the government, for the determination that the game will go ahead,
defiance, normality, business as usual: this was the message.

It was always going to be an emotional night. It was well known beforehand that the Duke of Cambridge, Cameron and the team captains would lay wreaths on the pitch; that there would be a minute’s silence; that the words of La Marseillaise would be shown on the big screen so England fans can sing with their counterparts.

I looked for videos of that. I did not expect to be so moved. Wonderful display of Liberté, égalité, fraternité. Yes, the words were mangled, the band wasn’t perfect. It was perfect:
it suited the often funny fraternity between France and England: our closest neighbour, but a sibling kind of relationship that leaves each afraid to say to the other how much we care, until something truly awful happens.

In the meantime, politicians, most especially Republican governors in America are portraying Muslims and Middle Eastern refugees as all terrorists and falling over each other to slam the door on Syrian refugees. Wow, that’s inhuman and cruel.

Oh, the final score was 2-0 to England. It didn’t matter. Marchons, marchons.

in 101.1001 , sports active |


Task #83 of 101.1001 are 3 activities with family. This is 3 of 3.

Sis invited me to go on an outing at the beach today. My niece had a playdate with one of her school friends to go kayaking. Very easy, rent a kayak or stand up board from the people at the beach, that was it. No need for life jackets, although we thought we should have been offered the option. The part of the beach was quiet and not very deep anyway.

I tried both kayaking and stand up boarding, both for the first time. The light kayak was very easy to handle, and I went out past the parked fishing boats to one of the buoy markers. I was a bit wary of the stand up board, starting off sitting and paddling around, but after a while I found courage to first kneel then stand up. Took more concentration than sitting in the kayak, trying to keep balance.

Great fun. Only around £5 for an hour, and we could swap between kayak and stand up board as we wished. I think it may be a new activity, will try to get mm to come with me next time.

in in the news , sports active |

I love cricket. Summer in the UK, in the days before internet and cable, was spent a) outside playing in the garden and b) sitting in front of the tv watching cricket. In those days there were only 3 tv channels and during cricket season, BBC2 showed the test matches all day. Cricket was a new sport to me then, but I had great teachers. Between the likes of Richie Benaud, Christopher Martin-Jenkins and a revolving chair of experienced commentators, I learned how the game worked, how to score, the terminology and strategy.

I never got the chance to play (aside from bowling a tennis ball at the garden wall occasionally) or to attend a game in person (the only time I made it to Lord’s was for Olympic archery) and I don’t follow the sport as much nowadays (cricket channel is an expensive add-on to my cable).

This week, the cricketing world was shattered by the news that Australian batsman Phil Hughes died after being hit at the side of his head by a bouncer. I don’t know why, I’m even more affected by this accident than normal. We read about tragedies all the time on the news and they are all extremely sad. This one came as such a shock that it’s hard to put my head around it. People don’t die playing cricket, and for this to happen to a 25 year old, world-class batsman, it’s so awful, so awful.

Around the world, people are paying tribute to Phil Hughes on twitter, instagram and social media by putting their bats outside. The images under the #putoutyourbats hashtag are fitting, dignified and very powerful. This is from former Australia captain Adam Gilchrist:

I don’t have a cricket bat (on this occasion, substituting a baseball bat is not appropriate) and I lost my cricket ball during the move back from London. So all I’ll do is pay my respects silently, and share on these images instead. This next one is from the New Zealand team:

Sincere condolences to the Hughes family, but the thoughts of every cricket fan and player are also with Sean Abbott, whose pitch hit Phil Hughes’ head. It was a freak accident, there was no fault.

in being healthy , sports active , techtalk |


Four years ago today on 10-10-10, I ran my first marathon, Chicago, in 5:38. This coming Sunday, 45,000 people will race the course over 19 neighbourhoods. Next year, I hope to join them. I deferred my 2014 place so I basically have a guaranteed entry for 2015.

I’m both scared and excited. I have not been running as much for the past year or so. I found a 52 week training plan which includes runwalking and allows short breaks during longer runs. Towards the last 18 weeks, it puts in more mileage than the Higdon novice 2 plan and gets up to 24miles (vs 20 for Higdon). Sounds good.

Technology and theories have changed since 2010, the market is flooded with wearables and fitness trackers. I retired my garmin, because it’s too bulky, too limited, and takes too long to find a satellite signal. Saw a new sock sensor that does real-time analysis of foot-striking position and stride and gives feedback via an app. Not sure I want a voice shouting “you’re heel striking!” in my ears when I’m struggling in the middle of a run though.


Ah, heel striking. That’s me, 2011 chimarathon. Note the knee brace, the KT tape, the orange sauconys and the heel striking. I have repeatedly been told that heel striking is bad, it increases the chances of injury and all that. I’ve tried unsuccessfully to change to fore- or mid-foot striking, and whenever I manage it, I feel quicker. When I’m tired, I lapse back to my natural heel striking form.

Turns out, heel striking isn’t the enemy of good running form. Changing footstrike may reduce knee injuries, but it may also lead to other types of injuries. My takeaway from the article is, it’s okay to heel strike at slower paces, it seems that both stride and strike will change with faster speeds. Since I’m aiming for a 12:00/mile, it probably doesn’t matter that much.

in arts and media , being healthy , sports active , techtalk |

via giz

Imogen Heap is awesome. Not only is she a great musician, she is also working on an app called Run Time that customises a run. It takes ambient sounds like breathing, footsteps, traffic and even birds and layers them with a pre-recorded electronic track. The best thing is that the runner can adjust the tempo of the music according to stages of a run: slow warm up, walking, running, acceleration and deceleration. She demonstrates this perfectly in her video.

Run-time, the song is based on the app. The album Sparks will be released on 19 August.

The app is still in development. Depending on how much it is, I will likely get it. Although, I won’t lope around NYC like a crazy person the way she did.

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The World Cup is here. Football players are well-paid professionals nowadays, with the emphasis on well. But within living memory, before the money-grabbing premiere league, were times where words like P&L statement has no place on the pitch. Like the day Harry Redknapp brought a fan on to play for West Ham.

tl;dr version for Americans and others unfamiliar with or not interested in football: the coach of a well-loved but perpetually underperforming sports team plucked a loyal fan from the sidelines to play with the team when there were too many injuries in a match. And the fan scored a goal.

This is the stuff legends (and tear-jerker films) are made of.

When asked if I follow football and if I have a team, I usually say no, which is close to the truth. I like watching highlights but have trouble sitting through an entire match unless I’m really bored. If I really, really had to pick a team I’d say West Ham accompanied by a small, embarrassed smile. Not that I can name any of the Hammers players currently on the roster, mind. Two reasons: a) Sir Trevor Brooking; b) I went to school with Bobby Moore’s daughter; I guess both make some weird sort of sense.

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What a difference one year makes. One year ago today, I spent an absolutely awesome day at Olympic Park watching the Paralympics. How could I have forgotten how it felt like? The pride and respect for the paralympians, I must never ever forget.

Wheelchair tennis, wheelchair rugby (murderball), 5-a-side football and goalball. All that, for just £10. It was one of the best days of my life.

in sports active |

After almost a year, I finally got round to dealing with pics from August / September 2012. Olympics, Prague, Provence, Paris, London and Paralympics. There is also a folder of misc pics that I want to sort too.

Anyway, full Olympics set, 195 photos, 12 videos. Includes Olympic torch, screenshots from opening ceremony, beach volleyball, archery and both diving finals (3m and 10m). There’s still the Paralympics pics to sort.

in being healthy , sports active |


5.68km 39.28min 6.56min/km (11.10min/mi)

What a difference one year makes. 15 April 2012 I ran the Brighton Marathon in 5.05, still a PR and re-reading the race report, a race I thoroughly enjoyed. 15 April 2013 I barely made it through 5k. Everyone is probably sick of reading about my running failures in the past year so I’ll stop now.

Very sad to read about the 23 year old runner who collapsed and died at Mile 16 at Brighton. I don’t know whether it’s more runners, more frequent occurrence, or the sensationalism aspect but it seems like there are far too many reports of marathon deaths lately. And with it, discussions about whether people should be exercising so intensely, even questioning why people run marathons in the first place. Not going there.

Even sadder news, that 2 bombs went off at the finish line of Boston. Shocked. Very sad. The explosions were timed for maximum carnage—at around 4hrs of a fast race there’d be lots of people finishing and lots of spectators at the side. Who does things like this? Boston, in addition to being one of the oldest and most prestigious marathons in the world, is the one where everybody agrees has the best supporters. The whole city comes out to cheer on the runners. The spirit of community is out in force after the explosions as people are offering their homes for people needing a place to stay.

London is this coming weekend. Already security is being stepped up. I hope stringent security isn’t a sign of things to come and runners aren’t discouraged to enter this and other marathons. One of the reasons the marathon majors (6 now) are so prestigious is the sheer amount of support of spectators along the course. A course 26.2 miles long in the middle of a bustling city is impossible to close down in the security sense—too many buildings, parks, rubbish bins, bridges and other city stuff. Do we want to move races to walled off highways with no view, no space for spectators and where the officials seem to be more intent on getting the last runner off so they can clear the road for car users to pollute the air again? No, no and no. That’s why I have no interest in running the most soulless marathon in the world, even though it’s cheap and easy logistically.

Thoughts are with the dead and injured. Please, no more violence.

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One of my fb friends said she got a new scooter. It turned out she meant the motorcycle scooter, like a Vespa. But my first thought were the skateboard-with-handlebars that were the rage that year I was in NY. Like everyone else, I got one as well, and gave it to my niece a few years later. And I discovered that there are people who do scooter tricks, like skateboards. Wow.

in arts and media , sports active |

I missed the parade of heroes because the movers were here packing and I barricaded myself in a corner in the kitchen. They were done by mid-afternoon. The flat is now full of boxes ready to be loaded to the truck tomorrow. I’ve gone for groupage shipment so it won’t be the container that arrives in the morning. They will load my stuff into the next available container and I may have to share with other people.

The movers left the TV and bed. I looked at the schedule and there is nothing worth watching. No Clare Balding, no Lexi guide, no overly eager 5-min segments explaning the difference between the two types of rugby wheelchairs, no one running incredible races or swimming their hearts out or playing blindfolded ball games. And sob no Last Leg sob. #isitok to have gotten addicted to the most un-PC coverage of disabled sports?

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ldnpara00boccia ldnpara00tabletennis

I woke up early and was out of the door by 8.30am. Ah, rush hour on the tube. Had to remind myself not to go to Stratford and get on the DLR for Excel instead. Excel was much, much quieter than the Olympic Park, the security and everything else was efficient.

The only event taking place was boccia. Amazing game. Very slow, very quiet. Similar to bowls, and played by athletes with obvious great disability. It’s quite entrancing actually. I stayed for about half an hour. Then headed to the opposite hall for team table tennis. Both men and women’s matches, standing and wheelchair. Quite a job to keep track of 4 matches at the same time. Both matches involving China had them surging on in front quickly, they would win them easily.

ldnpara00fening ldnpara00volleyball

It was only 11am, and time for sport #3. Wheelchair fencing was amazing. The fencers weren’t allowed to come out of their wheelchairs. Each bout was 3mins, and to be honest, it took way longer to get them ready beforehand. There were 8 fights at the same time, it was a women’s team match with 3 team members each team fighting every member of the other team. With 9 bouts in total, there was a lot of volunteers running around and fixing wheelchairs. Vocal support for Team GB, who got hammered by top seed #1. Strange tug of loyalties for me, teehee.

I didn’t need lunch, having packed a bagel and bought fruit at M&S. The stalls were a bit sad, more about that later. Watched a bit more boccia and the end of the table tennis matches before heading back to the fencing semi-finals. Got a better seat this time, to watch the GB team as well as the extremely close HK vs China semi-final. Then it was across the hall to sitting volleyball. Watched the first set of Morocco vs Rwanda, then headed home. Could have stayed, GB was up next, but it was more than an hour away.

That was the problem with Excel. Unlike Horseguards or Lord’s, which were single events, it was sort of like the Olympic Park but much less so. The best things were that it was indoors and the walking between venues was less. Not a lot of atmosphere though, it was like going to a business conference and going from room to room taking in the various ongoing events. The sports and athletes were the same level of amazing though, from the severely impaired boccia players to the athleticism of the single-armed table tennis players.

In a way, I’m glad Excel was my last Olympic and Paralympic experience. If it were at the Park, I’d be more emotional. As it was, I just wanted to get home. It had been an inspiring, humbling summer of sports. I’ll never get to experience this again, and words can’t describe my feelings are about all the sports and venues I’ve watched.

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ldnpara00tennis ldnpara00football

It is a truth universally acknowledged that all good plans never work out the way they were planned.

I got to the park around 10.30am to learn that there were no day pass seats left at the Riverbank for the 5-a-side football. So there went my well laid plans. A quick look at my schedule, and it was over to Eton Manor for the wheelchair tennis. OMG, it was a scorching day, we were all sitting right under the sun, and I’m sure I turned 3 shades darker. But what about the tennis? It was brilliant! All the rules of able-bodied tennis, except the ball is allowed to bounce twice. The skills and speed were great. I saw the #1 seed from France play the #3 seed from the Netherlands. The match was won by the French athlete.

By then I was desperate to get away from the sun. Over to the basketball arena to watch Australia vs Sweden in murderball. What a great match! Lots of banging, the wheelchairs really got a hammering. And lots of strategy too. Ryley Batt from Australia murdered the opposition (pun intended) and Australia won comfortably.

There was enough time to run back to the Riverbank to catch Brazil vs Argentina in the blindfolded 5-a-side football. Now I worry about Rio2016. I was sitting behind a Brazilian family and they had absolutely no discipline. In blindfolded football the crowd has to remain quiet so the players can hear the clinking of the ball, but this family kept talking, the kids whining and climbing all over the seats. The match was a 0-0 draw, and it went to penalties, which Brazil won. Very skillful playing, imagine dribbling and shooting in the dark. Huge admiration.

ldnpara00murderball ldnpara00goalball

It was by then 5.30pm, and I was pleased I’d seen 3 of the 4 sports on my list for today. Logically it’s over to the Copperbox to see goalball, but emotion won out. 7pm was the start of the murderball match between GB and France. It was very close, and the noise of the crowd stunning. Yes of course it’s home advantage, and we have used it, and will intend to use it, as much as we could.

I left at halftime. There was just enough time to go see goalball. More quietness. All I can say is, what a strange sport.

It was 8.45pm and time to head home. I still have Excel tomorrow so it’s not goodbye to the Paralympics. It is goodbye to the Olympic Park. I’d visited 4 times, walked miles and miles, from Orbit Circuit to Eton Manor. Sat at Park Live to watch the screen. Bought expensive beer and food. My lasting memory, I can’t pick on just one. It’s been amazing. Coming to see diving on that first day with mm was magical (and hot and bewildering). Watching the athletics on Tuesday was another piece of magic. The Paralympics was another highlight. I had a terrific time, a terrific day, have the utmost respect for all the athletes, feel so utterly proud to be British and privileged to have seen both Games in person.

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I’ll be at the Paralympics for the next 2 days, the 2 day passes that were originally all I got. Olympic Park tomorrow and Excel on Friday. Access to sports other than athletics, swimming and cycling. I had thought that I should just go, walking around and see what’s available. But with visitors topping 1 million, some strategic planning is needed.

I don’t plan to be there too early, probably around 10-11am. At Olympic Park, the choices are 5-a-side football, goalball, wheelchair tennis and wheelchair rugby. Studing the schedule and what teams have been announced:

  • 11.00-12.15: 5-a-side football, China vs GB
  • 1.30-4.00: goalball
  • 4.00-6.00: wheelchair tennis
  • 7.00-end: wheelchair rugby, France vs GB and Japan vs USA

A little bit of football is enough for me. Goalball is supposed to be quiet and relaxing. Tennis goes on all day, so it was useful to schedule. The first wheelchair rugby, aka murderball match started today, and it looks very interesting.

Friday’s plan:

  • 11.00-12.15: fencing, including a HK vs GB match
  • 12.30-3.00: table tennis
  • 3.00-5.00: boccia
  • 7.00-end: sitting volleyball

Again, the intriguing and new sports is boccia, probably the exact opposite of murderball. That murderball might end up being my new love.

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ldnpara00T13 ldnpara00T54

It was impossible to resist, there were paralympics athletics tickets on sale last week. I’d never been to a track and field event before, and of course there is the opportunity of being inside the Olympic Stadium. My seat was in row 10, very close to the track, at the top end of the back straight where 200m races start. Would have liked to be on the other side, but it’s fine. Especially since I had an end seat overlooking one of the tunnels where athletes come out.

Field events took place all evening — 2 men’s shot put final (F35/38, I think and F40); men’s F20 long jump, which was nearby on my left and women’s F35/38 discus which took most of the field of play. Not a lot of attention from the announcers or screens, they went about their competition quietly. Well except the long jumpers, who got clapped on their approach run.

The track events got the bulk of the attention. There were final after final, in many different classes. There was a 100m, a couple of 200m and 400m but mostly 1500m. Every time a GB athlete competed, the noise of the crowd rose 1 million decibels. The most cheers were understandably for David Weir in the T54 1500m final, and when he raced to gold, it was pandemonium. So moving.

GB also won a silver and 2 bronzes on the night. The Russians did well, as did the Kenyans, Brazilians, and Assia El Hannouni of France, who won her third gold medal in T12 400m before retiring. Every so often there’d be a victory ceremony, a good opportunity to stand up and stretch our legs. The 2 Brazilians who won the 200m T11 race had the best celebration, I’d never seen anyone so happy at wnning medals. Lots of cheers for everyone, and they all deserved them.

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Ran 12k around Hyde Park, and spent the rest of the day watching the Paralympics. The standout moments today — medals in the velodrome for GB, wheelchair basketball (my new love), T11 athletes running with their guides, Aled Davies of Wales receiving his discus gold medal from the Duchess of Cambridge. And that class 7 table tennis final between GB’s Will Bayley and Germany’s Joachen Wollmert. Will Bayley had endeared the entire nation yesterday with his unabashed joy at winning his semi-final, running and jumping up to his coach. He was understandably distraught at losing the final. The great moment for me was Joachen Wollmert, almost twice Will’s age (47 vs 24), who coaxed the weeping Briton up from the floor and acknowledged him to the crowd. Terrific sportsmanship.

As the Games progress, I’m learning more about the classification system. For instance I can now tell the difference between T13 and F46 in athletics as well as the various S-classes in swimming. The guides from the various newspapers helped, and certainly the graphical lexi interface on Channel 4 has been useful. I’m slowly warming up to C4’s coverage, still not happy about the ad breaks and the presenters talking over each other, to give them credit they are trying very hard. And hey, Clare and Ade in the evening works for me.

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Watched quite a bit of Paralympics today. I only get one of the channels, and all Channel 4 seemed to be showing was swimming, cycling and athletics. Tiny bit of football and wheelchair basketball. A very emotional day, all the big stars performed — Oscar Pistorius set a world record in his first round 200m race, Ellie Simmond’s world record freestyle, Team GB cyclists and equastrian athletes.

Two images stayed with me today, on 2 extremes. I could only find the video for one though. The first, Omar Hassan from Djibouti finished his T46 1,500m race at over 11mins, 7mins behind the rest of the field, to a standing ovation. He is one of the single participant who got a wild card.

The second was Richard Whitehead’s gold medal in the T42 200m, how he simply powered through once he got going and round the bend. Visually, it was stunning, running through 2 other athletes. Tearjerking stuff.

in in the news , sports active |

Watched the London 2012 Paralympics Games opening ceremony. It was on Channel 4, so there were differences between that coverage and the BBC’s for the Olympics. Some of the presenters were the same (Clare Balding, yay!) but overall it wasn’t as good, primarily because the commentary was poor and, ugh, there were ad breaks.

The theme of discovery and ideas was thoughtful and beautiful. Highlights for me were: Stephen Hawking’s words, Princess Anne waving her scarf and the countries represented by wild card athletes — the first country in the parade, Afghanistan and the single female athlete representing Syria. It’ll be a great next 10 days.

in on the relationship front , sports active |


I had 4 tickets for the women’s 10m diving final, so we met up with CC and M at Olympic Park. Our second visit, so we know the drill now. The seats were a little better, less obscured by the roof, important because this is the 10m platform. The diving, wow. Very close competition, and M was especially pleased the Malaysian competitor got bronze.

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ldnoly00aquatic ldnoly00diving3m

The day has finally come. The tickets I originally won during the lottery process, that meant mm could come to London. Women’s 3m springboard final. Lots of anticipation. We rested at home, watching tv for most of the morning, then left around 3pm knowing that it will take us over 1hr on the tube, plus walking, security and walking around the Olympic Park. Our estimate was right, althought there was no delay going through security. We had plenty of time to explore around the Olympic Park. It was crowded, it being super sunday and all, we managed to go to the shops, took lots of pictures of the venues too.

The diving started at 7pm, we climbed the very long staircase to almost the top. It’s a short contest, compared with, say, football or even the archery I went to last week. 12 competitors each with 5 dives. By the end of the first 2 rounds it was obvious that the 2 Chinese divers are the ones to beat. By the 5th round it was a competition for bronze medal and at the end the Mexican diver won against the Italian diver. It was an very impressive competition, so much athleticism, precision and bravery in these divers.

We stayed for the medal ceremony, and was out of the stadium at after just around 1.5hrs. Tube home. Fantastic day out.

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ldnarch010course ldnarch021gbrus

I went to olympic archery competition at Lord’s yesterday. It’s nice to have an event so close to home. It normally takes me about 10mins to run there on my way to Regent’s Park, and walking it’s about 20mins. I was quite early so no delays with going through security and looking at the shops. There’s a small area where spectators could try out archery, and they just opened so no wait. My first 2 shots were inside the yellow zone, then I got distracted and my last 2 were outside in the red and blue zones.

My seat was very high up (3rd from top of stand) and right at the shooting line. It was wet and rainy and the seats were wet. It was a long session, with 10 matches in the first and second rounds. The course is 70m long and we could hear the shots, but like on TV had to rely on the screen to see where it hit the target. There were various competitors in both men’s and women’s competition from a great mix of countries including Norway, USA, India, China, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Mongolia and 2 from Team GB. Interesting morning.

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Canoeing, table tennis, weightlifting are the new sports I saw today. It’s also the cross country day of the equestrian event. Cross country is being held at Greenwich Park across the river from Olympic Park. Oh what a beautiful course, glorious.

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Did some running in the morning in the showery weather, then settled for a day of Olympics on tv. So lucky that I have the BBC. Waking up on Saturday to comments that coverage of the opening ceremony in other countries weren’t as good was a bit shocking. NBC cutting the Abide with me segment was insulting and insensitive. I watched the whole ceremony live with no interruptions and sensible commentary.

On the BBC website, we’re supposed to be able to watch 24 channels of streaming coverage, although all it did was crash my flash plugin. I only have freeview so I have a limited of extra channels on my red button — during the day I have 3 channels in total, at night 4. Still, I’ve managed to catch 22 out of the 37 sports, which I think is wonderful. Some of them haven’t started, I’m hoping that I can at least watch a segment of every sport. The 22 so far:

  • archery
  • badminton
  • basketball
  • beach volleyball
  • boxing
  • canoe slalom
  • cycling - road
  • diving
  • equestrian
  • fencing
  • football
  • gymnastics
  • handball
  • hockey
  • judo
  • rowing
  • sailing
  • shooting
  • swimming
  • tennis
  • volleyball
  • water polo

Some of those were brief segments, most of the morning was watching Team GB lose in various sports. Again, it was cycling that got my attention, keen to not let yesterday’s men’s road race disappointment dwell. And wow, the women’s race was edge of seat stuff. Tactical attack, torrential rainfall and a sprint finish. In Beijing, the first British medal was by a female road cyclist and this time it’s no different, Lizzie Armitstead winning silver. So proud, so happy.

The evening turned better. Becky Adlington winning bronze, the men’s football team 3-1 against the UAE, news of preliminary successes for Ben Ainslie in sailing, the rowing team, boxing and eventing.

The biggest heartache is the news that Paula Radcliffe is out of the marathon through injury. She’s such a giant and role model that I’m truly distraught. I know she didn’t stand a chance, but she’s Paula, you know. Sigh.

The public row over empty seats continue, and I feel that the public should, and will, keep giving this issue the high attention it needs. Sounds like it’s not corporate sponsors but the Olympic “family” that are hogging all those seats, and without fail, they are the best seats. Someone need to be held accountable for this. Complete shambles.

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ldnolybvolley061usaaus ldnolybvolley022brnor

The plan was to watch all the Olympic games on TV, but the disappointment over the men’s road race took the steam out of that plan. I didn’t want to hear about how Cav didn’t get any medal all over the broadcast tonight. Idly, I clicked through the ticketing site half searching for returns and any games available. I wanted basketball, even though it’s too far away. Looked for events in this part of town — badminton at wembley, volleyball at earl’s court and beach volleyball at horse guards. It was 4pm, and there were tickets for beach volleyball at 8pm. They only give you 2mins to decide on whether to take the tickets, and it did take me the whole 2mins.

Horse Guard Parade is only 45mins away, but there wasn’t a lot of time. Had to get there early to physically collect the tickets and go through security. There was a lot of traffic too, so I didn’t get there till almost 6pm. The line for ticket collection took a whole hour! Security was fast though and I was inside, got some water and fish’n’chips and in my seat by the time the first game started.

The first game was men’s Brazil vs Norway. The stadium was quite full, except the usual sight of the best seats (Olympic “family” and sponsors) left empty. Disgusting really. My seat was behind one of the ends and not too high up.

The game was exciting, with the commentator drumming up the atmosphere, dancers coming on at intervals and lots of noise and music. Brazil is one of the favourites and won the game in 2 sets. The second game was women’s Switzerland vs Greece. Lots of vocal support for Greece, the game was won by Switzerland in 2 sets.

Game 3 was men’s USA vs South Africa. Great game, lots of athleticism and powerful spikes. A group of drunken dinosaurs were behind our seat and they were pretty loud. Didn’t matter, the whole stadium was loud. Game 4 was women’s USA vs Australia. It was already 11pm and pretty cold, I’d only brought my running jacket in case it rained and my teeth were chattering. The players also were feeling the cold, instead of the regular skimpy costumes, they were wearing warmer clothing. That was a thrilling match, obviously with the big names of Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor. Both USA teams won in 2 sets too.

The matches were finished at around 11.45pm. Got the bus home, by the time I’d showered it was 1am already. I’m glad I went, it was really interesting and exciting.

in sports active |

It’s Friday 27 July and the London 2012 Opening Ceremony will start in a few hours. The TV is decidedly tuned to BBC1, the Pimm’s is ready and the anticipation is building. Thinking back, I actually was in Singapore that day in July 2005 when the IOC announced that the 2012 Olympics will be held in London. It’s a bit surreal, that I can be here in person during this event. Yes, I complain about the various issues that have cropped up and am annoyed that my day-to-day life will be severely disrupted. But it’s hard not to get super, super excited. It’s such a huge event that the only reasonable thing to do is to get with the program and embrace the spirit. It will be something I’ll remember for the rest of my life. Bring on London 2012. Go Team GB and best of luck to all athletes.

in sports active |


I was thinking about whether to go, and the consensus from several people was to definitely go. It’s day 69 of the olympic torch relay, the last full day before it goes to the olympic park. It started today at Camden, moved east to Haringey, Islington, the City, south towards the south bank, Peckham, Lewisham, round Battersea Park, King’s Road, up towards Shepherd’s Bush, Westfield, Bayswater Road, Oxford Street, Regent’s Street, Downing Street, Buckingham Palace and coming back to Hyde Park. A lot of those spots are so near me that there’s no excuse. Initially the plan was to go to Bayswater and the Hyde Park area, I ended up a bit further west at Holland Park. It was a good decision. The crowds weren’t that thick, there was plenty of shade and this was where the route doubled back.

I stood next to a nice lady who was there with her grandchildren. Her daughter had gotten men’s diving and canoeing, she was very excited. They were running late and the first we saw of the convoy was security and police started to congregate. At the head of the convoy were police motorcycles, followed by some runners and then the sponsor trucks. About 2-3mins later the actual torch convoy came by, police first, then a lone torchbearer surrounded by security, then a bunch of buses and cars following.

They headed towards Westfield, so we had about 45mins to wait till they came back. I walked around the shops and had half a pint of a very sharp and bitter beer. Other people congregated at an ice cream shop and inside Tesco’s.

I found another good, shady spot to wait for the return. The crowds were thin enough that I actually crossed over to the median and had a clear view. The group went by quickly and I, like a few others, ran after it. Each torchbearer ran for 300m, so I was able to catch a couple of changeovers. It was an easy bus trip home too, to catch the rest of the relay on tv. There’s a concert at Hyde Park tonight, but that’t not my cup of tea.

Most of the torchbearers are locals who contributed to the community through charity work, or soldiers, or emergency workers, or brave souls who battled illness or disablity. Some are celebrities or sportspeople. Kate Nesbitt who took the torch to Downing Street was the first woman to be awarded the Military Cross for her work in Afghanistan. I didn’t know who the ones were today, but I thought they were great. The whole event was impressive, moving and I’m so glad I went.

in sports active |

London 2012 kicked off…in Cardiff. Football starts before the opening ceremony, and since the games are played at grounds all over the country, the Millenium Stadium has the honour of hosting the first event. And it’s Team GB vs New Zealand women’s football. I hardly watch football, and I think it’s the first time I sat through an entire women’s game. It was a thrilling game, with many missed chances and lots of pressure. Team GB had the upper hand, and the goal that secured the 1-0 win was brilliant. Hoping this is a sign of more wins and medals for the team. I have nothing planned for the weekend, I’ll be glued to the TV with my cups of tea.