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The Games are coming!
The Olympic Games are coming to London in 2012 and with less than a year to go now excitement is building for sports fans. We were lucky enough to secure tickets for three events in the ballot – beach volleyball, volleyball and cycling. On the day that those of us who had applied heard whether or not we’d been successful, and for what events, there was lots of news coverage and I had my 15 minutes of fame (well, a few seconds at least) when I was interviewed about our success on the BBC’s Evening News – you can watch it here..
Although August 2012 still seems some way off, lately you can’t avoid references to the games wherever you go in the city. In Trafalgar Square a giant clock is counting down to the start of the games, in days, hours, minutes and even seconds. Those arriving in London on the Eurostar trains from the continent are greeted by the huge Olympic rings at St Pancras Station. Various test events are taking place to ensure that venues are completely ready for both competitors and spectators. And in the Olympic Park in east London the new stadium and other facilities are taking shape. It’s going to be very very exciting!
I’ll be sharing the events through these pages once the Games start but for now, like us, you will have to wait ...
2012 Olympic Games
London has won its bid campaign to host the 2012 Olympic Games here in the capital. I could not be happier! This city will be transformed over the next few years. The plans for the East of London are impressive to say the least, check the website will see how it will look. The economy and housing will benefit from the boost in tourism and the building of an athlete village which will take place in preparation for what we hope will be the best Games ever!
I'm passionate about the fact we will host an Olympics in my home town...I hope we will make it an Olypics to be proud of and make the most of the opportunities which arise from this great honour.
Equipment: If you will be visiting London during the Games, be prepared for crowds, transport delays and road closures...but I hope there will also be a party atmosphere and although fingers are crossed that we will get some good weather, it can't be guaranteed, so bring comfortable walking shoes, a sturdy but lightweight umbrella and some layers. Unfortunately, summer in London is often changeable, so a cardigan to pull on if it turns chilly, or a waterproof jacket would be advisable. Also, something to sit on with a waterproof backing is useful. You may find yourself wanting to sit on the grass in a park, and even if it is sunny the ground is likely to be damp.
- Arts and Culture
- Family Travel
SB's Olympic guide : Tip 1, Transport
Stratford station will become the transport focal point for the 2012 Olympics.
The new station has wom many awards, although I'm not sure it will cope with the supposed train every 15 seconds.
The station will combine a number of heavy rail lines, and the Jubilee underground line.
Most importantly it lies on the Channel Tunnel High speed link. This means the site will be easily accessible from places like Paris (tough luck suckers) and Brussells.
P.S Don't confuse this Stratford with the much more famous Stratford on avon - which is a long way from here ! I suspect they may rename it 'Olympic central' or something like that.
SB's Olympic guide : Tip 10, Beach Volleyball
It would appear that the concept of 'beach' has been pretty much dropped here. If the olympics had gone to Paris then matches would have been played under the Eiffel tower.
In London the chosen location is Horse guards parade behind Whitehall.
Normally used for ceremonial square-bashing such as the annual 'Trooping the colour' military parade, many think that the location was picked for the historic and asthetically pleasing backdrop.
Sourbugger has a theory that the real reason has more to do with the little known fact that Prince Philip can train high powered binoculars from the third floor of Buckingham place through a gap in the trees in St James's park onto the site.
SB's Olympic guide : tip 2, accommodation
It is inevitable that London's hotel rooms will be well up to capacity for the 2012 Olympics.
The organisers might go for the solution of using cruise boats moored on the Thames, but failing that, the only motto must be 'book early'.
Another solution is to stay out of London itself. The main Olympic site will have no less than 10 rail lines running through it. (see Tip 1) Many of these will extend into the wilds of Essex, where there may well be more reasonably priced accommodation in such places as Chelmsford, Southend, Colchester & Clacton-on-sea. All of these places should be within about an hour of the main stadium.
- Budget Travel
SB's Olympic guide : Tip3, Tennis
Although the Olympics will be centred on East London, Wimbledon in South West London will be hosting the Tennis.
I hope they have enough time to allow the grass to re-grow after the normal Wimbledon Championships in June / July.
Don't expect much change to the venue between now and then, except for centre court gaining some kind of clever retractable roof.
In SB's opinion the place should have stuck to Croquet, the sport the place was founded for.
Access will be by tube.
This tip also allows me to post a completely gratuitous picture of Maria Sharapova
SB's olympic guide : Tip 4, Archery
Archery is planned to take place on the hallowed turf of Lord's cricket ground.
With a capacity of 28,000, this would seem like a bit of overkill. I suspect that this is one location where the tickets will be extremely cheap or even free in order to fill the place.
The photograph comes from over 100 years ago when the place was dug up to put in train tracks. The MCC (Marylebone cricket club) got a new pitch out of that.
Quite what the old buffers at the MCC will get out of the deal in 2012 ?
SB's olympic guide : Tip 5, contact sports
The Excel centre is a rather utilitarian series of boxes, more used to putting on tradeshows and the like.
For the 2012 olympics, it will be the venue for
Boxing, judo/taekwondo, weightlifting and wrestling
Located in London's Royal Victoria Dock,
ExCeL's main 65,000 square-metre space is thought to be the largest column-free hall in Europe. and probably the least interesting.
Quite why it is also named after the world's most annoying and infuriating computer programme is also beyond me.
SB's Olympic guide : Tip 9, The Dome
At last Mr Blair's silly dome built for the Millenium dome has found a use.
The big tent will be cleaned up (By God, that must be some washing machine to get all the covers done) and made ready for Basketball and artistic ponceing about (sorry, I mean Gymnastics)
It may be stunning piece of architecture, but it is just a pity it got such a bad name due to the Dome organisers filling it with rubbish for a years. I know. I forked out to see it.
At least it is now being put to good use.
SB's Olympic guide : Tip 12, Equestrian
It always seems mightly unfair to me that they never seem to give the horse a medal. After all it's done all the hard work, the training and jumped the bloody fences.
The upper-class twit on it's back has just been born into money.
Anyway, if like watching the no-chin brigade trying to break their necks over 30 or so piles of logs and flowers, then the three-day eventing will take place in Greenwich park during the 2012 Olympics.
The location would seen to be perfect for the spectator, shaded, undulating, pretty and affording great views of London.
SB's Olympic guide : Tip 6, Regent's park
Regent's park was going to be the venue for Baseball and Softball, but the IOC in it's infinite wisdom has now dropped both sports. I am not surprised - they were rubbish anyway. These are the first sports to be dropped, since Polo in the 1930's
The structures in regent's park were to be temporary, so another saving there.
The park still might be used for cultural events, and may still be included in the cycle road racing circuit.
SB's Olympic guide : Tip 8, Football at Wembley
The New Wembley stadium is due for completion in 2006. It will form the centrepiece of the 2012's Olympics football competition. Many of the matches will however be played at stadiums around the country.
There is some speculation that Great Britain will enter a team this time, for the first time. Until now the individual football authorities of the UK had kept themselves entirely seperate.
Many feel that the New Wembley should have been designed to accommodate an Olympics. On the other hand this would have meant an Olympics bid based on West London - and this would lack the note of regeneration which many feel won the approval of the IOC.
Expect to see a stunning, state-of-the-art stadium witha ruddy great arch over the top which can be seen for miles.
SB's Olympic guide : Tip 7, Triathlon
The triathlon for the 2012 olympics is scheduled for Hyde Park.
This I feel is an excellent choice, given the scenery, the landmarks, the serpentine lake and the ability of the park's management to put on large events, such as the recent LIVE8 concert.
Even if a grandstand is put up, I suspect that thousands will be able to watch for free.
I also suspect that times for the event will be very quick, as the serpentine is a very still lake, and Hyde park is virtually completely flat.
SB's Olympic guide : Tip 11, the Marathon
During a previous Olympics in London (1908), the course from Windsor to Wembly meant that the 26 miles finished just short of the royal box in the Stadium. That is the reason why the extra 385 odd yards was added.
Rather than re-create that run, or use the standard London Marathon course, a new course has been created.
It begins at Tower bridge, runs down the river to Westminster, then does a 180 degree turn, heads back through the centre before heading out in a straight dash out to the stadium in the East End.
That was it passes many of London's landmarks in the first half of the race. It will certainly look impressive on TVand will be the biggest single 2-hour advertisment for the London Tourist board you could imagine.
SB's Olympic guide : Tip 13, Shuttlecock & ribbon
If Badminton or Rhythmic Gymnastics (is that to say the normal sort isn't ?), or ping-pong (sorry, Table Tennis) is you bag, then you will be accommodated at the Greenwich Arena.
Don't bother looking it up on the net, as it will only be put up by a team of boy scouts with tentpoles and mallets on their DofE gold award expedition the Monday before it all starts.
The temporary structure (if you didn't get the last paragraph) will be placed opposite the dome, thus sharing transport links.
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