Joined: 27 Apr. 2001
From: Galashiels Selkirkshire United Kingdom
Olympic Weightlifting 77Kg - 1st August 2012
The Journey to London
We started our Olympic Adventure at Nottingham Railway Station (after leaving Boris the Dog with my parents!). We parked in the brand new multi-storey car park at Nottingham Station, and caught the 10:28 train to London St Pancras. We had booked advance Olympic rail tickets with our family railcard, and so managed to get 2 lots of single tickets (one lot there and one lot back) for the three of us for only £40 - an exceptionally good deal! Our Olympic event tickets also included one day travel cards for each ticket holder, so our tube travel was already paid for too!
The diesel train to London was fairly smooth and fast (though not as smooth as the Virgin train from Carlisle to London we used last year!). With 3 stops in the Midlands, and then non-stop to London the journey only took an hour and a half!
On arrival in London we were greeted by a free ice cream (thanks to East Midlands Trains) and some smiling Olympics volunteers making sure everyone knew where to go. Also our first glimpse of some Olympic rings (they got everywhere!):
We arrived in London at 12 o’clock, and our Weightlifting event wasn't until 7:30pm at the Excel Exhibition Centre, so we had half an afternoon to fill. We gave Emily free choice of activity, and she chose The Science Museum! So we headed there for lunch in their café and a couple of hours of sciencey things. So far so good - the Underground was very quiet, and the Science Museum was deserted!!! We weren't sure what to expect in terms of crowds in London at Olympics time…
About 4pm we decided it was time to start making our way to Excel - we weren't sure how busy the tube / DLR would be, and didn't want to miss the event! The tickets said to arrive 2 hours before the start time, so we wanted to be at Excel by 5:30. As it turned out, the transport system was still very quiet, so we got to Excel in plenty of time. We took the District Line tube from South Kensington to Tower Hill, then a very short walk round the corner to Tower Gateway on the Docklands Light Railway. Then DLR to Customs House station, right next to Excel.
The Olympic Experience
At Customs House we (and everyone else!) were greeted by lots of enthusiastic volunteers making sure we went the right way. There were lots of porta-loos on the way into the venue, so everyone was comfortable with no queues!
The first port of call was security, which was similar to the security for an air flight - no liquids (including water) over 100ml, or any of the other usual suspects (weapons / animals / glass bottles etc). We had to put our bags and loose items in a tray which went through a screening machine, and then walk through a scanner - you had to remove all metal items (loose change, jewelry etc. - including your belt!). This was no problem for us, and didn't see anyone else having any problems either. It all went smoothly.
Then we were into the venue - there was a longish walk from the entrance to the Weightlifting arena, but we had plenty of time, so we sauntered along soaking up the atmosphere and stopping for takeaway pizza along the way. At the weightlifting arena, we had our tickets checked and went through to the arena. There was a display about the history of weight lifting:
There was also a small London 2012 stand which was selling Venue-exclusive t-shirts and souvenirs.
We were allowed into our seats about half an hour before the event started. Our seats were quite a long way from the stage (i.e. far back), but they were right in the middle of the row, so we were directly facing the weightlifters.
15 minutes before the competition began a compere explained some of the rules, and the competitors were introduced:
There were no Brits in this final, but the champion from the last Olympic games in Beijing was there, so it promised to be an entertaining event.
We had not seen weightlifting live before, just on the television. We couldn't believe the atmosphere - amazing! The audience was so enthusiastic and encouraging - cheering on each and every weightlifter. It made an amazing show - especially as there were two world records broken!
Look at the bend on the bar in this picture:
The Gold medal winner, Lu Xiaojun from China, was the record breaker - you should have heard the audience encouraging him to lift that record breaking weight! People were shouting and screaming (us included!) and stamping on the floor…
After the event there was a short wait for the medal ceremony, which was great to see – it was good to see the athletes receiving their reward.
After the Event
The exit from the weightlifting event was very smooth. We didn't rush to the exits, to allow the initial rush to die down. It was a short walk from the weightlifting arena to the DLR Prince Regent station (there was a one-way system in force at Excel – you arrived at the Customs House DLR station, and you left by the Prince Regent station – this worked very well). The walkway was crowded, as you would expect, but the queue moved quickly - they obviously had lots of empty trains waiting on the DLR to whisk people away!
We caught the DLR to Tower Gateway again, and found our way to our hotel for the night - the Premier Inn in Prescott Street, just round the corner from the Tower of London. The Premier Inn lived up to its usual high standard - comfortable, simple accommodation. It wasn't as cheap as usual due to being mid-summer in London during the Olympics but I think we got a reasonable deal. Great all-you-can-eat cooked breakfast of course!