ski robots olympics

winterolympics2018

I didn’t get to see as many winter olympics events as I would have liked because of limited coverage. Mostly I read about the sports, the competitors and winners. Not that medals are the be all and end all of the Olympics, but Team GB came home with 5 medals, 1 gold and 4 bronze.

One event wasn’t part of the official Olympics but was so cute and worth watching was the Ski Robot Challenge. It took place at a ski resort about 1hr away from Pyeongchang and had 8 teams competing from universities and companies. The skiing robots

had to be more than 50cm in height, be able to stand on their own two legs, have independent power systems, use skis and poles, and have joints that allowed them to bend their knees and elbows

Like toddlers skiing. Not only cute, but useful research too.

2016 olympics

2016olympics

The Olympics finished. Didn’t watch a lot because the tv channel only showed the big sports like swimming and athletics. Very happy and proud that Team GB finished second in the medals table. So many greats, Katherine Grainger, Mo Farah, Andy Murray, Nicola Adams, Giles Scott, Max Whitlock, Nick Skelton, the divers, the hockey team and the entire cycling team. 67 medals in total, 2 more than London 2012, an impressive achievement for an away games.

Another way of looking: 7th weighted medals by team size which is very good too.

Special shoutout to the 10 countries winning their first gold medals: Bahrain, Fiji, Ivory Coast, Kuwait (as Independent), Jordan, Kosovo, Puerto Rico, Singapore, Tajikistan, Vietnam. It’s easy to focus on the big countries and big crowd-pleasing sports, the achievements of the smaller countries and smaller teams is proportionately even larger. And what about Sakshi Malik, who won India’s first ever medal, a silver in wrestling. Imagine the difficulty she’s had to overcome.

sportsmanship

There are no better embodiment of the Olympic spirit than Nikki Hamblin and Abbey d’Agostino, who were awarded the prestigious Pierre de Coubertin medal for fair play. One of the best moments of these Games.

olympics is here, remembering london 2012

The 2016 Olympics is here! Whilst there are undoubtedly problems due to many factors such as weather, illness, incompetence, corruption, the fact is that it’s an event that is worth getting excited about. I hope I can get my once-every-four-years fix of sports hardly seen on tv like handball, rowing, dressage. I’m also hoping that there is more coverage of the Paralympics, the athletes deserve so much more exposure.

Nostalgia time. Four years ago I experienced London 2012 at first hand, having been lucky enough to be in London at the right time and getting lucky with tickets. Been looking through my pics and posts. Pics: olympica | paralympics

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Catching the torch on the last full day before it got to Olympic Park. So, so, so glad I decided to hop on the bus. Holland Park was a good spot to see the relay pass not once but twice. Was at the right spot to see one of the handovers too.

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Getting a last minute ticket to see beach volleyball at Horse Guards’. Got a nice seat, the atmosphere was carnival-like and for a change I didn’t mind the drunken loud people around me. Watched until the last game ended at almost midnight shivering in the summer chill. Saw two big US names: Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor.

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Another last minute ticket to see archery. Walking distance, at Lord’s. Even tried my hand at it in the play area.

ldnoly011stadium

I had tickets for 3 diving events, gave one set to Sis’ FIL. The first one was women’s 3m springboard final. First time at Olympic Park too, went there with mm early so we could explore. It was super sunday and I remember someone shouting that Andy Murray had just won the tennis gold medal and there were cheers all round.

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Diving was quite spectacular but ended quite quickly. The second diving was women’s 10m platform final, I had 4 tickets so CC and M could join.

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What was really enjoyable and eye-opening was going to see the Paralympics. I got a last minute ticket to see athletics. I’d never been to a track and field event in person. It was absolutely wonderful. Highlight was definitely David Weir winning the T54 1500m final.

ldnpara097murder

I had a day pass at Olympic Park and managed to see tennis, football, wheelchair rugby (murderball) and goalball. All very different. Tennis was wheelchair players. Murderball was so exciting, I can’t believe it’s not shown more on tv. Football was 5-a-side and blindfolded. Goalball was played in absolute silence.

ldnpara146fencing

My last Olympics/Paralympics outing as at Excel. Saw boccia, table tennis, wheelchair fencing and sitting volleyball. Love the quiet dignity of boccia and the excitement of fencing.

cruise day 3: katakolon

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Katakolon 9am – 3pm

The first port of call on this trip. Docked at Katakolon at 9am. I had to go earlier to the customer service desk to retrieve my passport, which had been taken from us when we boarded for Israeli immigration. I thought I needed the passport to pick up the rental car, but actually they didn’t need it, just my driver’s licence. (That said, I deliberately used my UK licence and credit card, so may be it was an EU thing.)

Anyway, the port was pretty. There was a short walk from the terminal to the main street. I’d booked the car at Avis, €65 for an Astra. Originally for 5 people it would have been a bargain, for 3 it was more comfortable but less value for money. Still, the excursion to Olympia was €65-75 per person, and they didn’t tell us about the €20 per person shuttle until we got on the ship. It was a good opportunity to drive, and it gave us freedom to move around and stop. The rental office told me that to fill the tank back to its original position would be €15, and we decided to fill up on the way rather than the way back. Cute little petrol station, surrounded by orange trees and with a few cats wandering around.

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The drive to Olympia was around 30mins, very easy and straightforward. When we got there the car park was overrun with cruise tour buses so we parked around the corner away from all the chaos. Entrance to the site was €6, mum and I went while papa waited outside. The site was very big, even with all the tour groups it didn’t feel all that crowded. The important sites were the temple of Zeus, the temple of Hera, the semi circular Philippeion and the remains of the Stadium. The stadium wasn’t like the modern ones, there were no seats—although 45,000 people could have sat on the embankment either side. The most popular activity was to run along the strip of track where athletics took place, and I duly did 10m while mum took pictures of me pretending to be an Olympian.

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Olympia village itself was a short high street full of touristy shops. Bought a couple of cheese pies at a small bakery—very delicious! Puff pastry filled with feta cheese was just right. Returned the car back at Katakolon, then walked the whole length of the village high street. It turned out that small souvenirs at Olympia were cheaper than Katakolon, to note for next time. Went to a small supermarket and bought some biscuits and a small bottle of ouzo to try.

Late lunch back on the ship and the cafeteria was crowded as most people had the same idea. Long queues to get roast beef, mini burger, cous cous and panna cotta. Returned my passport, walked a little around the ship, read and watched Euronews. Then it was time for dinner: proscuitto & melon, salad, basil risotto, terrible boiled leather steamed fish, zuppa inglese (italian trifle), rice pudding.

one year ago

ldnpara062stadium

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.

olympics pics

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.

london2012 withdrawal day 1

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?

final games day at excel

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.

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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.

a day at the olympic park

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.

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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.

paralympics day pass planning

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.

paralympics athletics

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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.

paralympics lexi

lexi

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.

paralympics super saturday

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.

paralympics 2012

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.

olympics diving 10m

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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.<

olympic diving 3m

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.

olympic archery

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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.

first olympic weekend

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.

olympic beach volleyball

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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.

get ready

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.

olympic torch relay

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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.

and so it begins

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.

more olympics tickets

olytickets

Locog are trying to get us more into the Olympics spirit. Additional Olympics tickets are being released. I guess they are the ones with low takeup or returned for resale, because they are all at the higher price categories. There are even opening and closing ceremony ones, so if I had a spare £1,600 or so I can go to the opening ceremony. Um, no thanks. There’s wrestling, weight-lifting, gymnastics, basketball and volleyball (regular and beach) as well as scads of football tickets. Even the diving final that we are going to, the top price tickets are available.

I could be patriotic and go to women’s football at Wembley to see Team GB play Brazil. Or volleyball at Earl’s Court — both men’s and women’s preliminary round matches involving Team GB are available. How about beach volleyball at Horse Guard’s, there are loads of sessions available. The venues are better for me, no need to trek all the way over to Stratford. Problem is that they are all category A or B tickets, do I want to see women’s football for £45 or beach volleyball for £50?

I think I will try to go watch the marathon though, support Paula and Mara and Claire in the women’s event. I’ll be in Provence for the men’s.

olympics tickets

ldnoly00tkts

Olympics tickets are being sent to successful ticketholders. They tried delivering mine 2 weeks ago when I was in the US. I got an email about the non-delivery and went online to reschedule delivery, that’s one good thing I’ll say about locog (or rather, the royal mail). I have 8 tickets, all women’s diving: 2 each for the 3m springboard semi-final and final, and 4 for the 10m platform final. All of them very desirable events.

The Diamond Jubilee was really successful and set the scene for a great summer for the UK and London in particular. There are differences between the jubilee and olympics events though, and I’m not convinced that locog will run the olympics as well. First, there will be vastly more people in London. It’s less than a month, and I have yet to feel the excitement. The tickets come with free zone 1-9 travelcards, and that’s the first dread — the crowded and hot tube ride to Stratford. The sessions are 1-1.5hrs, and it takes me longer to get there.

Then all the rules in the spectator guide — can’t bring water, only one small soft-sided bag per person, get there 2 hours before your event is due to start, be prepared to go through security — sounds familiar? It’s like going to the airport and going through security theatre.

Don’t even get me started on the ticket sale fiasco. Anyway, I have tickets so I can’t complain. I should be grateful and treasure this olympics event. It’s going to take place in a city where I live. I’ll be able to sample the atmosphere and explore the olympics park. I have some great tickets. The best thing is, mm will be here with me. Get those union jack bunting out, dust off the union jack hat, get ready for the olympics.

olympics diving

london2012tickets

“You’re going to the Olympics!” said the email. I have 8 tickets for diving. All women’s, 3m springboard semi-final and final plus 10m platform final. I didn’t get any other sport, which surprised me. No table tennis, badminton, synchronised swimming or taekwondo. I’m quite happy that we get to go to Olympics Park and I have tickets at all. Still, the process of taking money from people’s account and making them wait 4 weeks before knowing what they’ve bought irks me.

olympics tickets

london2012

We’re definitely going to the Olympics next year. I checked my account yesterday and money has been deducted. Excluding the 4x£995 Opening Ceremony tickets (which were a punt anyway), I got about 25% of what I applied for. I can’t tell exactly which sessions but worst case is we’re going to 3 events; we may have up to 5-6. Fingers crossed we get something good.

Considering that 250,000 people didn’t get a single ticket they applied for, I think I’m pretty lucky. I understand why locog did it this way, but I can’t help the feeling that we the public are being cheated somehow.

  • no indication of how many tickets are really available in each price bracket
  • they take money from me but I have to wait 3 weeks to know which sessions
  • money taken over 1 year in advance, think of the interest earned
  • most people who got tickets are for the less popular events, so who really got tickets to the best events
  • people in Germany or US or other countries didn’t have to go through this painful process

london 2012 tickets

london2012

Submitted my application for the 2012 olympics. Only 20 sessions allowed per application so I chose the ones that mm, sis, my niece and I were interested in. And then planning where to go each day. Ended up with quite a diverse selection — diving, table tennis, badminton, taekwondo, swimming, gymnastics, athletics, cycling, fencing. I have no idea if I’ll get all the tickets I applied for. Heh, if I did, I’d have to make sure I have an astronomical amount of money in my account.

london 2012 fail

london2010

How embarrassing. On the day that 2012 Olympics tickets go on sale online, there’s a glitch with visa purchases (only visa is accepted). And to add insult to injury, the official countdown clock stops working only hour after it goes live.

That said, I was able to login tonight and start applying for sessions. So far I’ve got:

  • opening ceremony
  • beach volleyball
  • diving
  • athletics
  • cycling
  • handball
  • swimming

and I’m still going through the calendar. Maximum possible ticket cost so far is £6,000, but I doubt I’ll get allocated all the tickets I applied for.

olympic medal table

To be consistent I took the medal tables off local yahoo sites. Yahoo China took forever to load so I took yahoo HK. From top left: US, HK, Japan, UK.

o-us o=hk
o-jpn 

The most widely used classification method is by number of gold medals, which places China absolutely at the top. It’s only the Americans who use total medals. It should be obvious why, and hasn’t gone unnoticed. The Guardian even calls them on it.

Thinking about it, ranking by the number of gold medals isn’t right either cos this belittles the achievements of the silver and bronze medalists. Applying a weighting of gold=3, silver=2 and bronze=1 doesn’t change the top 4.

table

The next country down apart from US that benefits from counting total regardless of colour of medals is Australia and look how they see themselves:

May be the Canadians have it right. Put the US at the top using total medal count, then add a column to show position. Smart and tactful.

o-cdn

some thoughts on the olympics

We missed the closing ceremony — it had just begun when the plane landed and I was too intent on unpacking, showering and doing laundry to catch the end.

Although I missed the handball and water-polo, 2 sports I love watching but only get to see every 4 years; and I was on vacation, I thought I did well in terms of catching the important sports. Japanese tv repeated and repeated on their athletes’ wins, and why not? They showed a collage of their medal winners (and those who didn’t win), I couldn’t understand the commentary but I was still moved. It doesn’t matter which country, the joy when an athlete gets a medal has no boundaries.

There’s been so much said about China. The no-expenses-spared extravaganza. The haul of medals. The volunteers. The military precision organisation. The pride.

There is one group I was particularly interested in, the older-than-usual athletes. The New York Times summarised their amazing achievements. Notable:

  • Constantina Tomescu-Dita, 38, Romania, women’s marathon gold medal
  • Dara Torres, 41, US, oldest swimming medalist with 3 silvers
  • Hiroshi Hoketsu, 67, Japan, dressage, the oldest competitor

And so to the final medal count. I must admit the immediate reaction the first time I saw the final table wasn’t at the 51 golds that China won, I’d expected to see them at the top and wasn’t surprised. It was the UK at #4. I mean, wow. Ahead of Germany and Australia? That’s an achievement. I saw a Rebecca Adlington interview video on the Guardian and if she’s a typical Team GB athlete, then the UK must be doing something right.

I don’t want to be harsh but of course it matters whether it’s a gold, silver or bronze. The Americans are deluding themselves by counting the total number of medals rather than what the rest of the world uses, # of gold medals. More analysis next post.