It was an early start for all of us this morning as we got up to make use of the only Olympic tickets we had managed to secure
In the original lottery we had managed to get some swimming tickets and since Team GB had done so well in Beijing 4 years ago, we were quite excited about the prospect of seeing some good action in the heats for our morning session
Having been warned for the last 3 of those 4 years that travelling would be a nightmare and that the security checks would take a couple of hours themselves, we got the children up at the unheard of 6:15 and were out the door and just made it onto the 6:53am train into Waterloo.
The strangely familiar journey continued with a trip on the Waterloo and City line (one stop) after picking up some breakfast at Waterloo, a one stop on the Central line to Bank and then overland from Liverpool Street to Stratford – also one stop! We were lucky with the trains and were there in plenty of time after a quick walk to the Olympic site, with the children getting more and more excited all the time.
Despite what anyone says, the Olympic site, the travel arrangements, the security and the whole package have been very well done. There were thousands of volunteers sheparding people in the right direction, in addition to the well signposted routes. The volunteers added a bit of excitement to the journey though, encouraging people, hi-fiving the children and generally making the journey a lot more pleasant than it might have been with the crowds. Later on it may have been a different matter, but we had planned our trip to perfection and arrived relaxed and in plenty of time to grab a coffee and muffin and take our seats.
We had, through necessity, applied for family tickets for the swimming and after all the problems with the lottery had just been glad we had got any tickets at all, so had not actually checked where they were. No that it would have made any difference, but when we were directed up our third set of stairs we were slightly concerned, although as it turns out not half as concerned as when we reached the top back row and turned round to see the view! Not for those of a nervous disposition.
Even the children were a little concerned, but soon settled down and watched as best the could from their seats. They enjoyed being able to make as much noise as possible during the races we saw, and the 50m heats were quite exciting as there was a lot of action to keep them occupied. The 30 lengths of the 1500m heats were not so much fun as far as they were concerned, even when there were GB or SA competitors to cheer on.
The 4×100 medley heats we saw at the end injected another shot of excitement into our viewing, and the support and cheering for team GB was an incredible experience, exceeded only by the final swim-off between three swimmers, one of who was British. The roof was raised 🙂 as if Amy Smith had won the gold medal herself!
The journey out was slow but orderly, and we took the opportunity to step down to the front, to poolside to have a brief look at the view from the lower part of the hall.
Our way out was equally as managed by the purple clad volunteers and we were surprised to realise it had been raining outside in the three hours we had been cut off from the outside world in our bubble of Olympic excitement.
We found a bench in the park and had our packed lunch, but the children were far too excited to eat much and enjoyed practising being Usain Bolt, having competing 100m finals against each other on the grass by the river running through the park. They have done a fantastic job in the park with all the landscaping and making the space available to cater for all the visitors and the organisation has really been spotless.
Our final foray in the Olympic park was to the on site store, which we decided to visit to get the children a bit of a momento. It seems everyone else, understandably had had the same idea! We queued up for about 10 minutes, and only then worked out the direction the queue was snaking around outside the building. In order to move about 10 metres, as the javelin flies, my trusty iPhone app told us we had moved well over 600m.
With our children proudly clutching their Olympic mascot soft toys, we departed the park, with thousands of spectators now starting to arrive for the evening sessions. Our mood was slightly melancholy as we realised this was the end of our Olympic experience which had proved far more compelling at the end of the day than we had expected, and hopefully, at least, the children will remember they were part of the amazing party that was London 2012.