London 2012 Olympics

Olympic event #9 – basketball

Yesterday Peter and I attempted to enter Olympic Park for the Women’s basketball gold/silver final and were denied entry. We were confused. Had we purchased counterfeit tickets? How could that have been possible since we purchased them directly from LOCOG?

We double-checked the venue on the tickets and it stated North Greenwich Arena and Peter and I thought the name of the area sounded weird because there was a temporary basketball arena built within Olympic Park but dismissed it as perhaps having been temporarily been named North Greenwich Arena for the Games.

We blindly traveled two hours to Olympic Park only to be told by security that we were at the wrong place. At first, we thought we were at the wrong entrance and that we were going to be asked to walk around the park to a different entrance but then security clarified that by “wrong place”, they meant that North Greenwich Arena was not in Olympic Park. Security instructed us to go to the nearest Tube station and follow the signage to North Greenwich Arena.

This was sad because we were in Olympic Park on Thursday night for diving but we did not have a lot of time in the park to roam around and take photos and our plan for Saturday was to arrive early, enjoy the park and then go to the event.

Also sad was that we had already spent two hours traveling and had another 45 minutes more to go between walking, waiting, training riding, more walking, etc.

A short Tube ride later we arrived at North Greenwich Arena, also known as The O2. If only the venue listed on the ticket had been The O2, Peter and I would not have made the mistake of going to Olympic Park and would have arrived early to Olympic Park on Thursday to spend adequate time there.

Now that we were at the correct venue, we had about two-and-a-half hours to kill. What to do?

We were delighted to discover that the perimeter of The O2 is littered with restaurants, cafes, bars, and even a movie theater. After clearing security, we walked along Entertainment Avenue and enjoyed happy hour. A first for us in England.

As far as venues/convention centers/stadiums go, The O2 London ranks number one in my book. It is an enormous venue. Below are some fast facts about The O2.

  • The Eiffel Tower can fit inside The O2 lying on its side.
  • 18,000 double-decker buses can fit in The O2.
  • If you turned The O2 upside down, it would take Niagara Falls 15 minutes to fill it.
  • Alternatively, you could fill it with 3.8 million pints of beer or the contents of 1,100 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

After happy hourS, we sunk into our luxurious seats located seven rows up from the court and a few sections away from David Stern. Unfortunately due to poor camera settings, my photos are horrible. I also failed to get a photo of the London 2012 basketball logo.

This was the first women’s basketball game Peter and I have ever attended and I know it has come a long way but this was not the most exciting Olympic event we attended even though it was a gold/silver match with the USA playing.

The game was a complete blow-out with a final score of 86-50 with the USA defeating France. In retrospect, I am surprised the scores were so high because I recalled a lot of missed shots, dramatic falls to the court and arguments with referees.

After the game ended, a slew of born-themed songs blasted through the speakers as the Games Makers (aka volunteers) assembled the medal platforms on the court: Born in the USA, Born This Way, and of course, Born to Run. Team by team, Australia, France, and the USA stood on their respective platforms and received their medals and flowers.

I personally would like the flower tradition to go away.

The flags were then raised and the National Anthem of the United States of America was played. This was a memorable moment.

After the medal ceremony, everyone emptied into the North Greenwich Tube station. I cringed as I watched thousands and thousands of people pour into the station. It was madness.

Amazingly, multiple trains on two separate platforms were ready and waiting. As we descended onto the westbound platforms, the train on our right had just departed, so we boarded the train on our left, assuming this was the next train to depart. Wrong.

We stood on the train and watched three more trains arrive and depart on the adjacent westbound platform. Given the number of people needing to be transported, this was just a minor hiccup and only caused about a seven-minute delay in our departure.

Fortunately, the conductor provided entertainment while waiting for the green signal. He said, “There are five people in the first two carriages of this train and there are 1,000 people in the last three carriages of this train. You have three minutes until we depart. Make your move now”.

Two hours later, we were back in Maidenhead watching Dexter try to kill a hedgehog in the backyard. After chomping down on the hedgehog’s body, Dexter believed he was successful in killing the beast but the reality was that the hedgehog was playing dead and waddled off after Dexter trotted back into the house.

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