Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Athletics Finals

Remember the Olympics? Yeah, they happened a few weeks ago. We went. I just haven't updated the blog with the pictures yet. I thought I'd wait until it felt almost irrelevant. 

After the Olympics started, Brad decided he really wanted to attend a session of Athletics. Track & Field to all of us in the U.S. Considering we'd had a UK residence for months and could have tried to purchase tickets off the web site before the games started, his timing was questionable. But we caught wind of another wave of tickets being released late one night and he started clicking.

Stop me if I've already told you this, but the London 2012 ticket site was horrible. Tickets would show up when you searched, but once they were in your cart, you'd often receive a message that there were no tickets available for that event. I eventually realized if you just tried over and over to purchase them, you'd sometimes get lucky and they'd eventually go through.

Now, when I talk about tickets, I am talking about reasonably priced tickets - which were still ridiculously priced, but doable. If you had 450-795 pounds PER TICKET to spend, you could probably go to just about any event. That's about $700-1100 per ticket given the exchange rate.

After a while, we began to feel like Olympic ticket junkies. After Charlie's bed time, we'd each be glued to our laptops, clicking away. It kind of reminded me of middle school, dialing the radio station over and over, hoping for some NKOTB concert tickets. I doubt it brought up the same memory for Brad.

At 1am one night, about an hour after I gave up, Brad got some Athletics tickets to go through. Hooray! 

ANYWAYS. Tickets obtained. Spooners going. Onward.

Unlike the day session I went to with Katie, we were much higher up and off the track. We could see every event in its entirety, but were obviously farther away from the athletes. We were also under the cover, which was nice, as it of course rained. Here's our lovely nighttime view:
We could also see the Olympic flame in all its glory:
I was very concerned with being warm enough. It isn't every summer Olympics the fans are saying that, is it? I squeezed into a non-pregnancy workout half zip. I was warm enough, but could not wait to take it off. It was the top version of compression stockings. Here I am in front of the Olympic stadium, thinking "ouch". 
The theme of the night could have been Americans Doing Great Things. It was seriously an exciting night to be an American fan. Just dominating all over the place. Take that China. 

In a moment of local pride, we got to see a fellow Richmonder win a medal. We saw the Women's 100M Hurdles semi-finals and finals. Kellie Wells of Richmond, Virginia (James River High School and Hampton University) took bronze! 
(Note: if you want to Google her, be sure to spell it "Kellie", as there is apparently a porn star named Kelly Wells. I won't enlighten you with what she's been up to lately.)

Another American, Dawn Harper, took silver. The "fastest woman in the world", Sally Pearson of Australia, took gold. She also set a new Olympic record. In the rain. Hurdles in the rain! Goooo Sally. 

We also got to see the men's high jump finals. Erik Kynard of Team USA won silver! 
I think he won because he had crazy American flag socks on. You know, for higher jumping. 
We saw the Men's 1500M final, in which a Mexican-American, Leo Manzano won silver for the U.S. He lives in Austin and we won't discuss where he went to college. He carried both the Mexican and U.S. flags around the track, which I thought was neat. Mexico is not very well represented in Athletics events. Evidently, I was so moved, I forgot to snap any pictures of him. Dangit.

While it wasn't a final, we saw the semi-final heats for the Men's 800M, which had a few Americans running it. Two made it to the finals, including "Duane Bang" Solomon, who I followed because I thought his nickname was funny. His running shoes have the word "bang" on them. Ha. Both Americans barely made it to the finals, but Duane did really well - just missed the bronze medal two nights later.
The highlight of the evening might have been the Men's discus final. Not because it's all that exciting to watch or there were any strong U.S. competitors. But you have never seen a more joyous gold medal winner than the German who took off his shirt, grabbed the German flag and jumped all the hurdles!
Interesting tidbit: In order to transport the discuses (disci?) from the field where the judges pick them up, back to where the athletes are, miniature Mini Coopers loop back and forth on the field. True story.

We also saw the Women's Long Jump finals and Women's 1500M finals. Nothing interesting to report there. Oh and there were some medal ceremonies for events we didn't see. Jen Dunkirk of the U.S. was awarded a gold medal for the Women's Pole Vault.

Other than watching the events, we hit up the London 2012 Megastore for souvenirs. The guards so sweetly let us cut in line because I was pregnant. I always feel a bit bad for doing that, since I feel fine. But not bad enough to not do it. 

We also grabbed dinner at one of the global food courts that are spread around the village. The food is.... ok. Expensive. Fine. There was a festive vibe, though. Since I couldn't have any beer (well I had a little) I decided a nutella waffle was in order once inside the stadium. Waffles in Europe: Not just for breakfast! And nutella is basically a food group. 
We left in the misty rain, so very London, and discussed how we'll take the crappy rain over dripping with sweat. I shivered while we discussed. Unfortunately, the Orbit did not look any more attractive lit up at night. And I saw in the paper that it is here to stay. 
Overall, a night to remember!

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