Day 6: Olympics Day 1
I should’ve gone to bed early! The alarm clock went off WAY too early for me- at least Staci and Abby were up and ready. In a stroke of luck, our flat was about a 1.5 mile walk to Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre. This is where our first Olympic event was being held- Women’s Volleyball. We were scheduled to see Algeria vs. Japan in a first round qualifier. Everything we read suggested an early arrival at the venues, so we planned to get there 2 hours before the 0930 start, with the walk we ended up there about 90 minutes prior and made our way pretty easily through the TSA style security queue. This gave us plenty of time to grab a coffee and find our seats. I think the organizer’s did a great job planning the venues, as they anticipated folks getting there early. A recurring theme throughout all the events were videos explaining that particular event’s rules, as well as prior day results and sport descriptions. There was also a pre-show at the bigger venues, with a MC and some crowd participation activities. At Earl’s Court, it was a radio DJ type host and some US-style cheerleaders. As I said to the ladies: We came all the way to the UK to see Texas cheerleaders (from the UK)!
As the Japanese team was favored to head towards the medal round, they made pretty quick work of Algeria. Algeria made the second set a bit closer, as they kept their ‘A’ team in, while Japan gave their ‘B’ team some playing time. Japan brought back their ‘A’ team for the third set and made quick work at that point. For those PA residents, I couldn’t help but grab a picture of this player!
As the BBC and most media outlets would point out, there were LOTS of empty seats in the venue. The ‘nosebleed’ seats were all full, but the higher priced and ‘free VIP’ seats were mainly empty. The organizers tried to fill as many as they could with soldiers, too. And as we would later learn, the event’s popularity really didn’t seem to matter to those empty seats. We saw plenty of them for our other events.
After the event, we walked home and grabbed a really nice lunch (sandwiches & salads) at a neat little cafe on the edge of South Kensington/Knightsbridge and headed back to the flat for a quick power nap before the next event. We didn’t have to go very far for the Men’s Road Race, as they were using the Brompton Road right outside our flat. We headed over when it looked like they were getting close on the TV and saw the riders go by in a flash. It was really exciting- and fast. It also allowed me to get this great shot of Staci showing some patriotism!
I am pretty sure that we grabbed some pizza from Pizza Express and called it another early night. Tomorrow brings the WHOLE reason we were in London. Staci’s Bucket List item: Women’s Gymnastics.