Thursday, September 06, 2012

So You Want To Know About London and the Olympics

(That is totally what I am going to name a band someday.)

It's been one month since we left for London so I guess it's about time to blog about it.  I'm going to try to do this in one post.  I just can't remember all the details and the daily things that happened to write multiple posts about it.  Warning, it's going to be long and it's going to contain a lot of pictures.

We had tickets to three events and were able to attend three (and tried to see a fourth event) free events.  We also did a little sightseeing.

You might think that running is my favorite sport, but you are wrong.  Tennis, is actually the sport I most enjoy watching.  I am a huge tennis fan having been to the US Open in 2005 and attended one of the ATP hard court tournaments in Cincinnati.  One of my Life List items (and if it's not on the list, it should be) is to attend all four majors.  To go to Wimbledon is any tennis lover's dream.  Well, I may not have seen the Wimbledon tournament, but I did get to go to Wimbledon to watch tennis at the Olympics.  It was beautiful and much smaller than I anticipated.  We had tickets to men's and women's third round.  Our tickets started before we even got off the plane, so we missed our first match which was Serena Williams (eventual gold medalist).  We did get to see Novak Djokovic/Lleyton Hewitt, Marcos Baghdatis/Andy Murray (eventual gold medalist and Team GB favorite), and Caroline Wozniacki/Daniela Hantuchova.  I'm not gonna lie, I cried being at Wimbeldon and Centre Court.  It was so amazing to watch the crowd go crazy for Andy Murray.  And we got to have the ultimate Wimbledon experience by eating strawberries and cream.

If you don't know, I was on the women's rowing team at Ohio State my freshman and the start of my sophomore year.  I love rowing.  It's such a neat sport - so tough and powerful and yet it looks so elegant.  The rowing venue, at Eton Dorney, was about an hour away from London.

As a side note, no venues were that easy to get to.  Eton Dorney required a trip by train, and then bus, and then about a 20-30 walk.  Most venues required a lot of walking!!

Anyway, one thing each sport did a good job of was explaining the sport for the spectators.  Rumor has it, the Brits when given a chance to purchase tickets to the Olympics were put into a lottery and you got whatever sport you got.  So, each sport was explained at the venue.  We were about the only Americans at rowing but it was so exciting to be part of the Team GB excitement as we saw them win one or two gold medals.  We got to see a total of about 10-12 races that day including four or five gold medal races.  Total worth our money.

Weight Lifting
Of all the sports we were interested in seeing, you might be surprised to know that weight lifting was one on the top of our lists.  We specifically wanted to see the women's 75+kg as we had a local girl competing in it (Holley Mangold).  Again, we were really happy the sport was explained to us because we had NO idea how competitive weight lifting works.  It's a little like a chess match.  Each competitor gets six lifts - three snatches and three clean and jerks.  The athletes compete from lightest weight to highest and can change their weights at any point, even after missing a lift.  This allows them to screw with their competition and of course, allow them to lift the correct weight to get a higher score.  Speaking of either lift or you don't.  There are three judges and they decide what's considered a lift or not.  This proved to be interesting as our girl, Holley Mangold, looked like she had successfully snatched a weight only to have the judges say no and therefore she missed that lift.

In the end, the Americans finished 9th and 11th (I think) and we got to see three world records broken.  Pretty cool.

Both the men's and women's triathlons were held in Hyde Park and were free venues.  Triathlon must be a really popular sport in England because Hyde Park was PACKED.  We were able to fight our way into a pretty good standing spot and saw half of the swim and a small section of the bike and run.  Being 5'1", I didn't see a whole lot, but at least it was something.

The men's triathlon, however, was a totally different story.  Being that the Brownlee brothers were expected to do well, and did, the venue was even more packed than the women's triathlon.  There was no way were were going to be able to find some standing room to see this race.  Instead we sat up on a hill to watch the swim and then basically just listened to the rest of it on the PA system.  I kinda wish we had stayed in the hotel and watched this one on TV.

Women's Marathon
The women's triathlon was a few days before the women's marathon, so we were smart enough to get our buns down to the race A LOT earlier than the start time.  We picked out our spot along the street where we would get to see the runners six times.  We got there over an hour before the start of the race and got a spot right along the fence.  Soon enough we were flanked by tons of people including these cute British children who said the cutest things.  I wish I could convey it words, but the accent was so important.  Let's just say, we waited a long time for the runners to come by and when they finally did, the little girl beside us in her cute little accent said, "Our patience is going to be rewarded."  Loved her.

If you watched the women's marathon on TV you know that it was pouring down rain for the majority of the race.  And we got drenched.  We wore our raincoats, but it did not protect our feet, our legs, etc.  And worse, we were going straight from this race to the weight lifting competition.  It was worth it, though, as the marathon was amazing and I really enjoyed watching the American women battle it out for most of the race.

I have been to the Olympic trials in 2008 and 2012 and am so happy to have seen the Olympic race.  Those chicks are fast too.  Faster than you think.  There was a girl who was WAY off the back of the pack for the entire race.  We didn't know exactly the mile marker we were at, but we were estimating the girl was probably running 8:00/miles and I thought, I could compete with her.  Turns out she ran a 3:22.  Even the slow girls are fast.  :)

Race Walking
We tried to see the race walking.  We thought it would be interesting and we thought not a whole lot of people would be out there.  I mean, come on, race walking?  Surprisingly, it was crazy crowded.  So crowded, it was like five deep the entire route.  We stuck around for a few minutes and heard the race come by, but I couldn't see anything.  We nixed the idea of watching this race quickly.

As you can imagine, it was crowded in London.  Shocking, I know!!!  :)  The only place we actually toured was Westminster Abby.  It was cool to see where William and Catherine got married.  Beautiful!  It was also really cool to see the crypts (is that the right word?) of famous Brits like Newton, Darwin, Shakespeare and other writers, etc.  It was really crowded there and felt a little bit like you were constantly in line for a Disney ride.

Other sightseeing included Big Ben, Tower of London, the London Eye, Tower and London Bridge, etc.  Oh, and we also got to have dinner and watch some Athletics (track and field) with our friends Angelina and Shaun.


Our trip was both short and long.  We jam packed those 9 days, but we were exhausted and ready to come home by the end of it.  There was a lot going on back at home (see last post)....


Colleen said...

You guys really got to see a lot! Very fun! :)

Melissa C said...

Great pictures! What an awesome trip and experience!