The theme running through the London 2012 Olympics is “Inspire a generation.”
I’m too old for it to be my generation but for those half my age and more.
After watching a truly amazing opening ceremony, I knew I had to try and get hold of a ticket to an event of any kind going on inside the Olympic Park.
After a long weekend of perseverance, spending countless hours online, I bagged myself a single ticket to see a Women’s Basketball session. Not my favourite sport in the world but the chance to see and cheer on Team GB in action.
The atmosphere despite the long queues to get inside was friendly and upbeat, not the long drudge like has been reported in the media. Volunteers, security and the armed forces were all courteous, efficient and went about their job of getting you inside as quickly as possible without much fuss.
Then it hits you. You are at an Olympic games, a home Olympic games, staring at the Olympic Stadium directly in front of you. The day was a blur for me to be honest. Far too much to see when I had far too little time. You definitely need a whole day to take it all in and what the Olympic Park has to offer.
One highlight is Park Live. This is a beautiful area full of zigzag paths and flat green areas where you can sit and watch all the action of the day on one huge screen. The atmosphere here was as raucous as any stadium, especially when the masses were cheering on Team GB in the Mens 8 Rowing Final.
The Basketball Arena was purpose built for these Olympic games and is due to be taken down afterwards with no definite plan as to what will happen to it. It’s a very cool looking building though.
The basketball matches themselves were better than I could ever have expected. Even for the first match up between Brazil and Australia the crowd got involved. The pre-game and interval entertainment was so well run and created a terrific atmosphere inside the venue.
Team GB v Russia. The roof was almost lifted off just when the ladies came onto court to warm-up! The euphoric patriotic atmosphere just sweeps over you and you get caught up in what I can only describe as an emotional wave.
I’d love to know what it feels like to compete for your country in that atmosphere. After blowing an early 10 point lead which turned into a 10 point deficit, Team GB competed nip and tuck with the Russians but ultimately came up short. Some silly mistakes and lack of judgement cost them but no lack of effort.
Overall a very positive and inspiring day. Britain has done itself and the Olympics proud. If this event doesn’t inspire the next generation then nothing ever will. I hope in the next 12 years and 3 Olympics we see people competing who say they were inspired because of London 2012. That is a real legacy, taking the X-Box generation from their bedrooms onto the running tracks, into swimming pools and wanting to become the next Jessica Ennis.
I have posted some more photos from the day, including of the Olympic Stadium here at Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/markukleaf/sets/72157630914062360/