The 2012 London Olympics are coming to an end with the final events concluding today and the final curtains beginning to close; when it will all finish with the Closing Ceremony at Stratford tonight. Therefore, it seems an appropriate time to reflect on the last 16 days…
At first we weren’t as excited about the Olympics Games as we should have been. Like most Londoners, all that we could think about were the extra people coming to London to congest the already stressed public transport system, and the adjustments that we personally were going to have to make in our everyday lives, to account for the extra million visitors that would bombard London every day!
However, one Saturday morning we decided to drag ourselves out of bed early to walk to the end of our street to watch the Olympic Torch Relay pass through our neighbourhood. It was at the moment that the torch came past that we had finally caught the Olympic bug! We also thought to ourselves that this would probably be the only time in our lives that we will live in a city hosting the Olympic Games! What an exciting time to be living here in London!
The Olympic rings barge that floats down the Thames
When a Gold Medal is won for team GB.. A mailbox in their home town gets painted gold!
The new olypmic driving lanes for oympic vehicles only
Long before the opening ceremony, Matt was already making regular trips to the stadium with his school as 32 students had been chosen to take part in the opening ceremony. In the few weeks leading up the ceremony, many schools across London were attending rehearsals a few times a week – usually staying away from their comfy beds until midnight. As a thank you for volunteering to chaperone the children to the rehearsals, the London 2012 committee gave all the teachers two tickets to the final dress rehearsal which was held on Wednesday 25th July at Olympic Park. Unfortunately, as Matt had to be with the kids backstage, he couldn’t attend, so Hannah had to take a friend to share this event with instead. It was such an amazing experience to be a part of, and the atmosphere was indescribable! One can only imagine what it must have felt like to be there on actual opening night!
Final dress rehersal
Backstage at the final dress rehersal – Matt’s students are aout to go on for their part in the performance
Mary Poppins float from the sky!
Can you see Matt’s picture in the opening ceremony program?
All the volunteers names were listed in the back of the program
When opening ceremony night came around, we took our picnic blankets, some finger food and a few bottles of red down to the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich to watch The Opening Ceremony on the big screen. Luckily, we also took our umbrellas because, as usual, there was some rain in the clouds suspended above London. Moments before the Opening Ceremony started, at exactly 20:12, The Red Arrows flew along the River Thames heading towards the stadium whilst leaving a trail of red, white and blue. We were lucky enough to watch them fly right above us! We all stood with the crowd attempting to sing God Save the Queen and we knew about as many of the words as the English crowd did (which was not very many). With the recent rain, and our picnic blankets soaking up the moisture from the mud like a sponge and being surrounded by people from every country imaginable, you wouldn’t think it would be a very enjoyable experience, however we had a blast! We don’t remember the walk home very well, but we can recall that we went to bed with big smiles on our faces after a great night out, and not only because of the 3 or so bottles of wine we devoured.
Watching the opening ceremony in Greenwich
London has also had some new, temporary attractions on the streets to help celebrate the Olympics and to keep the tourists at bay (aka Matt). Approximately, there were 82 Mandeville and Wenlock statues (the mascots of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympics games), that have been placed at various sites throughout London. Each is painted differently to represent different English themes and landmarks. Matt had done his best to find them all whilst on his school holidays.
There is also a collection of large shot puts, javelins and bow and arrows (gifts from the Gods) placed randomly across the city to help celebrate this great event as well as many other sites and attractions.
A giant javelin in Canary Wharf
A shot put in Greenwich
Sowhat events have we been to you all ask? We had tickets to Great Britain vs. Brazil in
the Women’s Football/Soccer at Wembley Stadium. It was the largest recorded crowd to watch a Women’s match in the UK, (over 70 000 people)! This morning (Sunday 12th August),we headed into the city to watch the Men’s Marathon. We got there an hour before the event to find a good spot on Cannon Street. As the course involves 3 laps around the city centre, we were able to watch the athletes come by a few times and cheer on the 3 Aussies who were competing. We were definitely outnumbered by the Team GB supporters lining the footpath! Matt’s first day back at school will also be spent not on school campus, but watching some of the Paralympic Athletics events at the Olympic Stadium.
Team GB vs. Brazil
- Watching the football
Getting in early to cheer the Aussie men’s marathons runners on!
In a few moments time it will all be over as the closing ceremony starts. Apart from the extra tourist groups huddling in the train stations at peak hour, making Hannah even later for work, it has mostly been a positive and fantastic experience! We will be ending these amazing two weeks quietly – with a few beers – watching the Closing Ceremony at home.