So the Olympics just gets better for GB as the medals rack up. I managed to catch the two golds in the cycling this evening before I went out to see the beach volleyball in Horse Guards’ Parade. The men’s team pursuit was awesome – completely destroyed the Aussies in the final. And then Vicky Pendleton in the Keirin, a rather bizarre race involving a strange electrical lead-off bike for about 4 of the six laps, before it becomes a mad sprint.
All these golds and other medals, along with the general brilliance of the whole event, are creating a real feelgood factor in London. On the tube, in the streets, everyone seems to be smiling more. How do we capture this vibe and preserve it?
I met my friends Jon and Tony in a pub near St James’s Park station called the Old Star. We watched Rebecca Adlington get a creditable bronze in the 800m freestyle, had a couple of beers, and then moved on to the beach volleyball.
Whoever decided to put the beach in Horse Guards Parade rather than on a beach, say, on the South Coast of England, was a genius. The temporary stadium, holding 15,000, I think, has the most magnificent views and is superb for watching the sport.
Big Ben and the London Eye feature.
The evening was brilliant. The atmosphere was just so engaging. Everyone was enjoying themselves. Having a laugh. Enjoying the beach volleyball, but also loving all the music, the dancers, the rakers (smoothing out the sand), the Mexican Waves, that French rugby trumpet thing. The lot. It was just such a hoot.
There were two beach volleyball games. Now, I’m sure I had booked women’s quarter finals. But we got a men’s game as well as women’s. Last 16 I think. First up the men, Spain vs Brazil. Brazil won 2-0 in sets. But both sets were really close. Then it was Russia v Austria, women. Same Austrians who beat Australia. And they won again last night (as it now is as I write). 2-1. The crowd seemed behind Russia. Whether it was in any way about their looks and the fact that even in the chill of evening they stuck to bikinis, I wouldn’t like to say…
The women’s game was actually more entertaining because there were a lot more rallies. The men’s game rarely had more than three strikes in any exchange. Probably because of how hard the ball was struck. The women’s was much more convoluted, with frequent rallies of 8-10 strikes. And therefore better.
The atmosphere in the crowd was the same for both games – joyous and energised.
Anyway, here are a few photos of the evening. Starting with the stadium.
Spain (dark blue) v Brazil (white).
Dancing girls (and boys). Integral!
Man concentrating on his job!
Austria (navy and white) v Russia (red and navy)