Day 9: Olympics Day 3
Today was our final day in London and it ended up being a busy one. We spent the morning packing and then headed out for the trek to the ExCel Center for Table Tennis. Yep, ping pong. We landed these tickets as part of the lottery and they weren’t terribly expensive. We got there plenty early, but since the ExCel had lots of other events going on, there wasn’t really a ‘pre-game’ show. Instead, they had a queue in our area where you could get a picture with an actual Olympic torch:
After the torch picture, the doors opened. We were seeing a semi-final match between the world’s Number 1 female player from China against an underdog from Singapore. While it was interesting, the game just didn’t hold our attention as much as we were hoping for. The crowd was definitely into it, though. After the match ended, we decided to skip the second match and head out to the Olympic Park. This was one of the best decisions we made all week!
Now, for a bit of backstory. A week before leaving for London, we realized that our event tickets did NOT include admission to the Olympic Park and the US ticket agency (CoSport) did not have any available. Luckily for us, they were still selling tickets to UK residents. Esther was kind enough to stay up late and buy us three tickets (hence my trek to Parson’s Green for pickup). But when we saw the confirmation, I saw that I told Esther the wrong time. I asked for PM tickets, when we wanted AM tickets so we could pack and get to bed early. We changed our schedule a bit, packed in the morning and left Table Tennis early. We got to the Olympic Park and waited in the longest queue we had all Olympics (about 10 minutes) to get through security. Once through, we looked around and took in the expanse of it. Olympic Stadium was HUGE! We walked around and saw that the longest lines for food was at the two McDonald’s! So, we skipped that and hit the mini ‘world’ food court, brought to you by Aramark (based out of Philly). The queue for the ‘biggest Olympic store’ was quite long, but was really only there for crowd control. If there was a competition for queuing, the UK would be the gold medal winners every time! Once you were in the queue, it moved fast and you were in the store. Of course, much shopping was done. As I was unable to get tickets to any of the shooting events, I settled for a Shooting even t-shirt!
After shopping, we walked around the park and saw the velodrome, basketball and hockey arenas. We also saw a huge HD screen in the park and sat down to watch the games. Little did we know, it was our turn to witness history. We sat down on the path next to the Aquatics Centre and proceeded to watch the US Men’s 4×200 meter relay team win the Gold. We cheered and yelled- it was also the race that Michael Phelps win his 19th medal and become the most decorated athlete in Olympic history. What made it facntastic was being in the park and watching the medal ceremony live, almost in person. Hearing the Star-Spangled Banner play, watching fellow Americans waving the flag and singing along- right outside the venue for this historical feat- there are really no words for the moment. It was probably one of the most moving events I’ve ever experienced in my life. I turned to my left and what did I see? Abby videotaping the medal ceremony! She managed to capture a bit of that magic. Go Abby!
After that, we didn’t seem to mind the long walk back to the Central Line. On the tube, we were able to help another American family find a stop closer to their hotel and avoid a long tube trip home. Being an expat seemed to come in handy during this trip!
Sleep seemed to come easy tonight….