One of the best features of Facebook is the “On this day” feature, you know the one, you get a series of posts you made on a specific date every day from when you first joined Facebook. Admittedly, most of mine are dull, mundane comments about work being boring, or if I’d done something particularly clumsy which I think is worth sharing with my friends to raise a laugh, but every so often something comes up which I do enjoy the memory it brings.
Today was such a one, a post tagging me and my friend (go check out her fell running posts! https://fellrunlikeagirl.wordpress.com/) in the Olympic Park of London from 2012. A timely reminder as the current Olympics are now being held four years later in Rio, and something I always love watching, athletes from across the world showcasing their talents and skills for that one moment in time but which they have spent years in training. Oh how I wish I were there to watch it live again!
But to 2012, and it was London’s turn to hold this amazing event, and the weather leading up to it was just perfect. The excitement of seeing the torch relay and numerous programmes on TV had built the public mood up to fever pitch, including my own. When would Britain get the opportunity of holding another Olympics? That was it, I was determined to get hold of a ticket, even more so when some of my friends had got early ones and were show casing the pictures of their trip of their experience. After speaking to my friend Ruth (who I was ultimately to go with) I’d decided that on one of the ticket allocation days I would work from home (still so thankful for that benefit!) and log into my personal laptop and just sit by it while working. My god, the suspense was actually unbearable, my hands were sweating and sore from constantly pressing the refresh button! The system, which was fair as possible worked by you having to constantly refresh the main ticket page till you could click the “queue” button in which you’d then be directed to a page of different available sports to view with different seats and prices.
After what seemed an interminable amount of time, and just happening to look at my laptop screen, bracing myself for disappointment I suddenly saw I had been successful in getting into the main ticket page! I went into a sudden panic mode as so many people were buying up the tickets you had to be quick to click on a sport and choose a number of tickets and hope there would be enough! Scrolling through feverishly I couldn’t find anything for the number of tickets I needed, or the number of tickets were available, but for prices beyond my means (saying that, I do wish I had been impulsive enough to get the Athletic Tickets inside the main stadium as would have loved to have experienced the roars inside the stadium for the gold medal winners!). Eventually I somehow managed to find 2 tickets available for the Ladies Hockey bronze medal match, even better, it was going to be our own Great Britain team playing! I frantically put my card details in for the payment, got it wrong..swore…re-entered..got it wrong..by now I was on the verge of throwing my laptop out the window thinking I’d miss my moment..finally I got the number in correctly and got the email verifying I was now the owner of two hockey tickets and entrance to the main olympics park. “Woooooooo”..think the neighbours must have thought I’d won the lottery, to me as an experience, it was the next best thing! I told my mate Ruth I needed to have a word with her before she went training about work but she got worried haha so I had to let on that I had managed to secure us two tickets to the games. With the biggest grin on her face when she got to my house, we then set about getting ourselves ready to book trains down to London on the day. One thing I forgot to say, was that the game was in 2 days time, so this meant both of us having to beg a sudden day off at short notice, as luck would have it, my manager at the time had gone down herself, so she was happy for me to go and experience it and gave me the day off (I’d already decided *Ahem* that should I not have been given permission I may have had a sore throat, I was that determined not to miss this day!)
Day of arrival
On getting to the Olympic Park, we were subjected to some security checks, then admitted inside, and we were surrounded by people from across the world, and this is what I loved about the games, and still do now. It brings people together from across the world, of all nationalities and gender, we were all there to see our respective nations do their best but in the spirit of the games, doing so with goodwill towards one another. At one point I somehow found myself an unofficial photographer, taking numerous family/friend pictures as they all walked by, as for once everyone wanted to be in the picture to be part of that amazing memory instead of some poor person having to be stuck behind the camera. And what can I say, I didn’t begrudge them one bit, I wanted to help them enjoy their day, I wanted those people from other countries to experience british hospitality at its best, I wanted them to be going home with a positive experience of the whole day, games and people. And I got the same back, I had a laugh with the people from Holland in all their glorious orange kit, joking with the official olympic volunteers as we walked past, seeking directions for various facilities.
The Olympic Park itself was simply out of this world! I know a lot of money had been spent, but you could see where and it was worth every bit! Every venue was so modern looking and gleamed in the sunshine and toward the evening, there were areas which lit up the night in glorious colours.
Me and my mate Ruth had a few hours to spare before our main game we’d come to see, so we spent our time exploring the park, and there was plenty to see and get involved in and just soaking in the experience of it all. There was a main eatery area, so we’d decided we’d better rest our feet and get a bite to eat if we were to survive the day! After a picnic in the sun we wandered round, wishing we could have got tickets to all the games! One thing the park had done well was with the planting; even though you were surrounded by 1000’s of people and big (and now iconic) buildings, there were vast areas of grassland and flowers in which you could just take a breather. Believe me, the park was huge, and you did need to leave plenty of time to walk across it all!
Eventually it came to our match, and even though I only had the bare rudimentary knowledge of hockey rules, I just got caught up in the sheer excitement of the game, knowing enough to see when we were doing well, shouting at the referee if I felt we had been fouled,I think Ruth was begining to regret being sat next to me!
On looking around the stadium I managed to get my paparrazi skills into practise, spotting a couple of famous faces!
The matched ebbed and flowed with the players going from one end of the pitch to the other, and some of the hits they took only to get back up again. Well don’t let anyone tell you hockey is a gentle game, I certainly wouldn’t have dared take on the Team GB ladies! But come the final whistle we had done it, or rather they had, the final score being 3-1 and what an eruption of cheers by everyone in the crowd. I had goosebumps covering my body, I get them now just remembering it!
Me and Ruth decided to explore the Olympic park for a while longer, wanting to see it in the evening light, and we decided to sit on the grass to watch some of the athletics which were now occuring in the main stadium on some large screens. Even at that time of night, the air was buzzing with everyone talking amongst themselves, not wanting it to end, and cheering the people on the screen. But our time had to come to an end if we were to get our last train, so sadly packing our bags up, we took a slow walk back to the station, enjoying the lit up buildings and hearing the distant cheers.
What a day and what an experience! We went our seperate ways at the station, and with very sore feet I made my way home for a final cuppa tea before bed (such an English thing to do!), sleep coming late because I was in such a buzz still.
All I’ll say to finish this post off, if you ever get the chance to experience something major like this, especially if it’s in your home country, go for it! These opportunities come few and far between, they may be costly in money, but the memories you’ll hold? Priceless!