Sunday, 5 August 2012

Flying the Flag - our Olympic Story

You know the way that small children say "he's been!" on Christmas morning when they find their stockings (or in our case, pillowcases) have been filled by Santa. Well, that was me on Wednesday morning when we arrived at the Olympic park "We're here!". Ridiculously over-excited because we, number 1 child and I, were there in the most amazing sporting place in the world.
Ever since London won the bid, the whole Olympic thing has been whizzing round my brain. I immediately told my children that it was one of my ambitions to be an Olympic mother. "Pick  a sport, any sport!"  I exhorted and yes ... they failed me. 
Then moving on to the torch, I nominated my dear and brilliant friend, Louise who is the inspiration for raising over £800,000 for two local charities - Alzheimer's and scleroderma - and wonderfully and emotionally she ran with the torch at Barkston Ash and we were there to celebrate her fantastic moment. 
And while all this was going on, I had spent hours - yes, hours - trying to score tickets in the ballots. High levels of abuse at Sir Seb that despite the huge amount of sport played and watched and coached and organised from the little house on the prairie no tickets were available. I chuntered a good deal and finally tried in the third and last ballot for tickets to the diving and yessss (pause for Olympic-size cheering) we got tickets to the men's synchro 3 metre springboard diving! 
So on Wednesday morning I was on the train to Kings Cross to meet number 1 for our Olympic diving fest. Straight on to the javelin train from Saint Pancras where we encountered a very smart volunteer who proudly told us he was in the flag team in the stadium for the victory ceremonies - what a great job! 
Through security and everyone - volunteers, army, spectators - are smiling and sharing their Olympic news. The park is amazing and we walk round to check out the various stadia - velodrome, basketball arena, hockey, pool and main stadium. Of course, there's a massive screen showing all the action from the rowing and cycling taking place elsewhere in the capital.

Lunch proved a bit of a challenge. This is the only the sign of difficulty that we encounter. The various food stalls have had logistics problems getting provisions into the park so paella with hardly anything in it but rice but we don't care - the sun is shining and we are on our way to the pool.  
Before the competition in the pool starts, all the divers from all disciplines are training so we see Tom Daley practising on the 5 and 10 metre board as well as the other GB divers. Then the competition starts and the Chinese are awesome. They have won every diving medal so far and this is going to be no exception. The Malaysian pair bow charmingly after every dive and the Mexicans, trained by number 1's old mate Fito who used to be the coach at Shipley, are doing incredible high tariff dives which are either very successful or a disaster. The GB team gets such a huge cheer every time they step on the board that it feels like the roof may come off. They finish 5th and that's a fair result because the Chinese win by a country mile and deservedly so. As Tom Daley said, winning silver in diving is like winning gold in any other sport. The Chinese have it all sewn up.
Then back out into the park to see Bradley Wiggins getting his medal on the big screen to huge cheers from the crowd in the park and then we join a queue for return tickets for the women's basketball. It takes an hour but yes, we get lucky and front row seats are ours for the GB Russia match. The atmosphere is like a party and the feel is very American but every British score is ear-splitting and the result is close... but the wrong way. 
I sometimes think that as a nation we are not proud enough of being British. I hope that national pride is a legacy of the Jubilee and the Olympics. Proud to be British and so, so proud to be there. A once-in-a-lifetime day. 

PS Massive good luck to Jack Laugher, our GB diver who goes to Ripon Grammar is in the springboard event next week. Can these Olympics get any better!? 

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