I attended Day One of the London 2012 Olympics Men’s Artistic Gymnastics today at ‘The O2’ … or as we now have to call it, the ‘North Greenwich Arena’. USA, Italy and Japan were competing in the afternoon round.
Before the main event began an Irish presenter warmed the crowd up. Well, I hope she was from Ireland because only an Irish person can get away with the line “let’s walk around the arena for a bit and have some crack!” without it meaning something very different indeed. She did her job well, but I was rather perturbed when she introduced a short film explaining the main features of the sport by calling it the “A to Zee of Gymnastics”. A to Zee? A to Zee?! My Dear, I know the USA were competing today but you’re in London (and clearly not American with that Celtic accent) so at least pronounce it properly: it’s “zed”!
I had a great seat in one of the suites giving me a fantastic view of the whole floor. Alas, all good seats appear to come with a price and not just a monetary one. Mine was to be seated beside the world’s most irritating eight-year-old. He just wouldn’t stop asking his poor mother the most ridiculous and banal questions which she couldn’t possibly know the answer to. He was a true why-ner: “why is that man standing there?” “why is the floor pink?” “why did the woman say that?” “why can’t I sit down there?” Yes, why can’t you sit down there, anywhere, just not here, next to me! (there were plenty of empty seats he could have chosen from). I’m so glad now I decided not to have that Pimms with my lunch beforehand (it was a ‘buy one glass get one free’ special offer in one of the arena restaurants) otherwise I might have slurred something rather regrettable into his ear.
There was a great atmosphere in the arena and the whole event was very well produced. The voice-over presenter however, on introducing each round just couldn’t help himself and ended his introduction to each piece of apparatus with an appropriately cringe-worthy pun:
He clearly was stumped however when it came to the parallel bars. I’m surprised he didn’t try something along the lines of ‘parallel parking’.
A really enjoyable event, very well presented and extremely well organised. There were volunteers galore everywhere, all friendly, knowledgeable and keen to assist. Security was tight but not overwhelming nor overbearing, and as a result there was a nice, friendly atmosphere going through the airport-style security area. Only one small bag per person is allowed through. There are lockers you can use should you have more baggage with you. You can bring your own food but liquids are not allowed, although you can bring an empty plastic bottle with you which can be topped up with water free of charge inside the actual event grounds. There are plenty of eateries to choose from (though surprisingly no McDonalds at the Arena) but bring plenty of cash with you as they can be pricey …
… and hats off to Transport for London. Even when the event was over and the crowds dispersed, London Underground staff were well organised, got the crowds moving and onto trains quickly and effectively. I even got a seat in my carriage.
Day One. Done.
Being inspired by the Superhumans at the London 2012 Paralympic Games and the possible sighting of a well known politician dressed up as a chicken