The final day of the 2012 Olympic Games, with the sun shining again and lots of folk out on the streets to enjoy the marathon from wherever they could find a vantage point. I caught a little bit of running action, then
headed along Embankment and past Belgium House. A little further was Case Brasil, where a large exhibition held Brazilian art, information about the 2016 Games and what’s being done in Rio to get ready. (You could hold the Rio 2016 brand in your hand! Very exciting.)
Finally a first visit to an official Live Site since Edinburgh some two weeks earlier and then the Park Live site within the Olympic Park. The Victoria Park experience was carefully controlled (hence a rapid scoffing of sandwiches outside the entrance before they were confiscated). There were several screens up, with lots of folk lounging around in the warmth. I was tempted to stay on for the closing ceremony, but the warmth and comfort of home was too tempting. There were many who did watch it from there though – I was going against the tide on my way back to the tube station.
It’s hard to know what to make of the Victoria Park live site experience. I’ve head these places described as being on a ‘music festival’ model, with stages, food stalls, over priced beer and parched grass. I suppose that’s a reasonable analogy, although visitors know that the live site experience is only a second hand experience – you don’t get that feeling at music festival with live performances. There’s also a lack of the usual peripheral attractions at a festival, with little choice of food, few tents and stalls to have a look at and not a lot laid on to encourage people to make new friends. This was an opportunity to sit and watch sport from the commercialised comfort of baked earth and tired grass, which I guess is why I head back to a comfy sofa for the bizarre closing extravaganza.
These photos are from two events: men’s volleyball at Earls Court and women’s football at Wembley stadium (CC licence as normal). The two venues are separated by a few miles, but also be a few decades of progress in stadium design. The wooden seats of EC are to Wembley what oilskins and a sowester are to the latest Gore-Tex breathable waterproofs. Functional they may be, but they’re not particularly comfortable, you don’t get a great view of the action and the price differential of building the two venues might be of a similar order. That said, I’ve been to some very impressive Boat Shows at Earls Court where they’ve flooded the main halls for ocean going yachts and the odd dinghy race.
The volleyball was good fun, with some very vocal Polish fans round about not enjoying their national team’s defeat to Australia. The bits that are shown on television look great, as you’d expect, with mobs of volunteers on hand to wipe the court whenever they get the chance. Good atmosphere too, whether because of or inspite of the pitch-side entertainment, enforced Mexican waves and gurning fans on the big screens.
Wembley Stadium is impressive, this was my first visit. It’s really… big. Big pitch, lots of seats, lots of people. Lots of climbing as well, up to your seat in the Gods (if you were sitting near me anyway). The Mexican waves here were largely spontaneous, among the 61,500 crowd, though we still got our fill of entertainments outwith the pitch action. As you can imagine there were some queues to get out – we were herded along ‘Olympic Way’towards the tube station. It took a while, but the police kept us all in order, held us back in waves and so when we reached the station there was no crushing and plenty of space on the platform. Just a shame my phone died during the wait so I couldn’t text ahead to say I’d be late…
There are also a few images from The Mall, with its red tarmac. These are of the back of the beach volleyball arena and the barriers in place for the marathon and whatever else was due to take place outside Buckingham Palace. And yes, it was a lovely sunny day.