Yesterday, I got my first glimpse of the Olympic Park. What do I reckon? Get down there if you can.
Some last minute cheapo handball tickets were my excuse and gladly taken. Heads up to anyone going in such a manner: spare at least a half an hour to queue to pick up your tickets, else your miss the start of your match. Even the amusement of a man behind me insisting he was hip because he knew who Kanye West was did not help stem the annoyance (although the kid’s answer of “you don’t know who Flo Rida is…you called him Florida” came close.)
First up I saw a well supported, but slightly naive, Team GB get their proverbials handed to them 41-19 by some angry Swedes.
Both that game, and the the follow up Croatia-Serbria game (grudge match, Croatian top scorer had four fingers and a mean temper) were very intense and ludicrously high scoring which, while being the nature of the game, does eventually get a bit tiresome. It felt a bit like playing Pro Evo/Fifa on 1 star difficulty – it’s fun to see people peg it up the other end and knock in a goal ad infinitum, but you get a bit overindulged and the glut eventually make you yearn for more. Perhaps I’l see a variation of tactic when I head up next week for…er….handball.
What I was really there for was to be a bit of a voleur around the Park itself. First impressions? They’ve done a fantastic job. I commented that it seems a bit like being in a benign police state – everything clean, organised, smiley people everywhere. Only the occasional armed officer jolted you out of this Adult Disney image.
Thankfully, if you’re hungry, there’s more than just the well profiled Mega McDonalds. The fare is pretty much the same as any major festival – cuisines of entire countries represented by four options from a single van. I went with a Belgian waffle which was surprisingly nice if expectedly pricey.
I have to admit that, despite my worries in the weeks before hand, with a variety of clusterfucks occurring, I was won over by the landscaping, the architecture (especially the velodrome) and just the general buzz around the place. All sorts of people, countries, classes, ages were there and looked really, bloody happy to be there. How rare a thing – it wasn’t even sunny! And I had zero transport issues. Even got a seat both ways. So while the real test will come with the start of the athletics and the full use of the stadium, colour me convinced – I think the park is wonderful and that these Games will be a phenomenal success.*
* As long as the Tube doesn’t break down. Which, because we’re still in London after all, it probably will.