Anyway who’s read my blog or followed my Twitter feed in the past few weeks can’t have missed the fact that I enjoyed the Olympic and Paralympic games very much indeed. In fact, some of my nearest and dearest would have gone so far as to say I was ‘obsessed’ with the games. While, I concede, I was partially obsessed, I didn’t go so far as to book the whole four weeks off work or pull sickies to attend games, nor did I spent three figures to obtain tickets… which is what I would classify as ‘obsessed’ in comparison to myself.
When the Olympics ended last month, I was pining for them for weeks. I complained London was missing ‘something’ and there was nothing decent to watch on TV. Fortunately, the Paralympics soon came around and I was equally enthralled. Although I never realised my dream of watching the athletics in the Olympic Stadium, I did obtain a ticket to the Powerlifting 100kg final. If you told me even a month ago, that I would be paying to watch men lifting weights, I probably would have laughed hysterically. However, once the ‘lympic fever hits you (the O’ or the Para’), you just want any piece of the action. And with the Paralympics being noticeably more affordable, it was a small price to pay for such an amazing day. Watching the awe-inspiring Egyptian Eldig Mohamed lift 249KG (yes, really!!!), breaking world, Paralympic records and achieving a gold was a special moment and moved me to tears (again!) when he received his medal.
Although I went on to watch Sitting Volleyball, Wheelchair Fencing and Table-Tennis with my ExCel day pass ticket (for free), I didn’t get to see Team GB in action on the particular day. So on Sunday 9th September, the day of the Closing Ceremony, I managed to get a brilliant spot right at a barrier to watch David Weir in the Wheelchair Marathon, where he later won his 4th gold, and Shelley Woods, who later won silver.
So on Monday 10th September, it was time for my final fix of ‘lmypic fever and Team GB. When I heard the athletes were doing a victory parade, I knew I had to be there. Fortunately due to my shift pattern at work, I had the day off, so arm with a charged camera and my Union Jack flag I headed for Westminster. Deciding against Trafalgar Square – which unsurprisingly was pretty rammed – I opted for a spot on the south side of The Strand, just east of The Savoy and within view of the Aldwych. I only had about two or three rows of people ahead of me, and with the knowledge the floats would be high up, I was content with my pitch.
We patiently waited about an hour and then were hit by the wall of noise travelling from the east. Police officers on horseback let us know our heroes were approaching and soon we were thrown into the patriotic spirit (as if we needed any help) by children underneath a huge GB lion, followed by a band. The music got everyone in the party spirit and by the time the first float – athletics carrying Mo Farah amongst others – the excitement had reached fever pitch.
For the next 15 minutes, we were passed by 21 floats representing all the sports. Everyone was screaming and cheering, the athletes exchanged waves with their adoring public. While the public were looking up to them as amazing, inspirational people, the athletes insisted they were thanking us for the support we gave them during the games. I was thrilled to be able to stand just metres away from so many brilliant people – Victoria Pendleton, Sir Chris Hoy, Ellie Simmons, Louis Smith…
Team GB were amazing this summer and we have much to be proud about as a nation and as a city. We’ll never have this experience again so I’m so glad I grabbed every opportunity I could to be there. Thank you Team GB!
- For my previous Olympic blog posts, see It’s been a wild ride! Reflecting on my London Olympics experience and Follow the Wenlocks: Olympic discovery trails around London.