Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Greco-Roman Wrestling, ExCel - 5 August

Also, Hockey, Olympic Park – 6 August

I am going to lump these two together and also mention that we went to boxing on 29 August. Basically, I am so shattered by storming around the Olympic park yesterday, after two kiddy parties and a long stint at the allotment over the weekend, that I can’t even comprehend trying to write about the boxing. It was great, as I vaguely recall. It all seems so long ago.

Wrestling at ExCel. These were the tickets we bought because we thought nobody else would want them. But there were plenty of fans there from many countries. This sport seems to be Asia led – there was a wrestler from Krygystan, one from Belarus and the gold medal winner of one class was from Iran. The other gold medal winner, in the 74kg category, was Roman Vlasov from Russia. Mr wound up getting his autograph on the ticket as he very kindly came out where the spectators were leaving at ExCel. So it made his night.

I did feel like the Belarusian was a bit of a sore loser, as he lost out on the bronze medal and would neither shake anyone’s hand, nor stop weeping by the side of the mat. Finally his coach came along and collected him. I wanted to say, sometimes if you offer them an ice cream, they cheer up. But we liked the Belarusian wrestler because he was the first to do a flip when he won. Then they all did it. One of the gold medal winners practically did a whole routine. Mr got a photo or two.

We took the cable car over and back, and it’s a part of London I haven’t really roamed around much before. Lovely water views. Of course, it helped that they were parking the tall-masted ships in the ExCel Docklands basin.

Again, the organization was brilliant. Can’t fault LOCOG for how they’ve set it all up. And we realized just how amazing they were when we got up bright and early the next morning (bit too early, having stopped in a local pub, The Pilot Inn, on the way home to catch Usain Bolt’s sprint) to go to the Olympic Park.

We took the advice to get off at West Ham instead of Stratford, and were rewarded with a pleasant enough 20-minute walk to the park. Then, once we got there, the steward said, you have another 20 minutes to go to Riverside Stadium. Oh. On we trudged, past the lovely wildflower meadows (not sure why when I let the weeds go on the allotment, they don’t get as picturesque as this, ha ha) and the massive temporary structures.

I would like to say the Americans covered themselves in glory playing hockey (or field hockey, as we call it in the States), but they didn’t. Mr joked that perhaps they were confused and were waiting for a puck. South Africa took the opportunity to rout the Yanks and stormed ahead. Final score was 7-0. A killing.

At least the weather held and we had a nice woman next to us who explained the scoring and rules with the hockey. Never played it myself. We left the arena and wandered around a bit, and then we espied some US fans in those morphsuits. Took a photo and then realized we were surrounded by most of the losing women’s hockey team. Mr was delighted and got two of their autographs, plus one from the winning South African team.

We planned to go to the world’s largest McDonalds for lunch, breaking my personal rule of never eating there, but the queue was so huge that we gave up and waded back through the throngs to the fish and chip stand we had passed on the way.

Note on the crowds: I have never seen so many people in one place in my life. And yet it all ran so smoothly. Many kudos to the Olympic volunteers.

So, we lined up for fish and chips, and Gavin said quietly, There’s Dara O Briain. I said, Where? And whipped around looking for him in the crowd. He was right behind us in the line. Oops. So we chatted a bit and he signed Mr’s autograph magazine of the Olympic Day 10. He has gone to see the water polo and something else. Apparently the Irish didn’t do so well.

He was recognized more than once as he is about Mr’s height (6 foot 4 or so) and he is on the tv over here a fair bit. He seemed quite pleasant about it all, which was nice. He was also having lunch with one of the panelists from Mock the Week. Is that allowed? Never mind.

We parted ways when he went for the cod while we went towards haddock. Mr took a photo of the back of his head at the counter. I suggested that crossed the line into stalkerdom. Gavin was wondering why he wasn’t in the seafood and champagne building instead of the chippy line. I said, well, believe it or not, he’s probably a real person like us and enjoys a good plate of fish n chips.

And they were very good. Expensive, but not crazy, and very quality. I had mushy peas too. Pushed the boat out, as they say over here.

Then, it was another queue for the Olympics souvenir shop. That was only about a 10 minute wait. And what delights! Wenlock was there (we had seen him in East Greenwich on Saturday) hugging and shaking hands, and Visa also had some captive athletes who were signing these brochures and getting photos taken. Both were huge Scandinavians. I felt very small next to them and Mr.

Off home we went. The short train ride home was a relief. So many people! I went to bed early. No Olympics until Friday now. I  need the days to rest.

Marks out of 10: 9. It is the Olympics after all and the food was better than expected. Loved the flowers too.