Evening out at the Olympic Park
Today was our second Olympic event - the handball. When booking tickets, we’d decided to pack in as many sports as possible while the whole thing was in town. If the tennis last week was our big win, the handball was our back-up when we were getting anxious about only having the one event. Plus it had one big advantage - it got us into the Olympic Park.
And I have to say, the Park is bloody lovely. They’ve done a great job of landscaping it - lots of pretty mini meadows, beautiful wildflowers, perfect lawns for chilling out on, and the whole place was bright and open and spotless. The different stadiums and arenas were stunning too, the velodrome being my personal favourite. The main stadium is pretty spectacular, and quite exciting to see for real after watching so much Olympics action on TV. The roar of the crowd coming out of the place was staggering. Later I understood why - it was around 8pm and Usain Bolt was running the 200m semi finals.
One of the other things I’d been looking forward to was the food. I’d heard the selection of stalls was poor and it certainly looked that way. They’re all generic Chinese or Indian or Fish & Chips places, no branding, just mass catering - they were supposed to offer an international range of food, but they all looked bland and inauthentic.
No, what I wanted was dinner from the world’s biggest branch of McDonald’s. It’s only here for 6 weeks and had been created especially for the Games, McD’s being (ironically) an official sponsor of this, the world’s biggest sporting event. It’s absolutely massive but, disappointingly, I didn’t manage to take a photo of it (crowds outside were pretty big, partly because the BBC studios are next door). The photo above is actually of a second smaller (!) branch next to the Orbit Tower, which is an enormous mess of concrete and metal with a viewing platform at the top, where you can take in a vista of the whole of London for £15. Personally, if I wanted a view like that I’d rather go to Hampstead Heath or Franks Campari Bar.
Anyway, on to the handball, a sport that none of us knew the first thing about. To be fair, now that we’ve been, we’re still not that sure. It seems to have some of the rules of football, but is played just with the hands - the ball shouldn’t come in contact with anyone’s feet. And there’s an element of basketball in there too. And from the Tunisian team, a touch of wrestling - violent bunch, they were, I felt quite sorry for the well-behaved Croatians they played. It was all very entertaining, not least because of the DJ who played ‘Under Pressure’ during penalty shots, ‘I Get Knocked Down, But I Get Up Again’ whenever an injured player rose to his feet, and ‘Sit Down’ if someone got sent off. Plus there were cheerleaders at half time!
Tomorrow is our last Olympic event - Women’s Wrestling.