Joined: 27 Apr. 2001
From: Galashiels Selkirkshire United Kingdom
Olympic Gymnastics Women's All Around Final - 2nd August 2012
On the way to The O2 / North Greenwich Arena
After breakfast we took a leisurely stroll past the Tower of London and on to the Tower Millennium pier ready to catch our pre-booked Thames Clipper boat to the O2. We couldn't believe how quiet the Tower was - it was 9:30 in the morning at the beginning of August, and there was no one going into the Tower - not even anyone queuing at the ticket desks! I think everyone was either at the Olympic Games or avoiding London in case it was too crowded.
Here's Emily with the Olympic mascot Wenlock, in front of a deserted Tower of London:
Whilst waiting for the boat we got a good view of London's latest huge skyscraper - The Shard - currently the tallest building in Western Europe:
The Thames Clipper boat was fairly full - it had people going to the Olympics at both Greenwich (equestrian events) and the O2 (gymnastics).
Here's the view from the back of the boat, just after we had passed under Tower Bridge:
We caught the boat at 10:00 and decided to get off one stop early, and spend the morning in Greenwich - we didn't need to be at the O2 for the Gymnastics until 2:30pm (for a 4:30 start). We were in fact a little early for some of the tourist attractions in Greenwich - we got there at 10:30, but the attractions didn't open until 11:30 (Cutty Sark) or 12:00 (Royal Naval College Painted Hall and Chapel).
So we spent some time in the Museum in the Royal Naval College, which was open, followed by the Cutty Sark when it opened at 11:30. The Museum was very interesting, showing the history of the Royal Naval College and its surroundings, with lots about the architecture of its fantastic buildings.
Cutty Sark, newly opened earlier this year (fully restored after a disastrous fire in 2007), was really great. It showed the history of the boat when it was a clipper ship transporting tea from China and when it was a general trading boat transporting goods to and from Australia. There were hands-on exhibits for kids, which Emily thoroughly tested, and some interesting videos about the boat's history and restoration. You could explore all over the ship from the hold to the deck. The views from the deck were very good - the Greenwich attractions in one direction, and Docklands and the Thames in the other.
The Cutty Sark:
Whilst on the Cutty Sark we caught sight of the entrance to the Greenwich foot tunnel, and thought Emily might be interested in walking under the Thames. So, once we had fully explored the Cutty Sark, we made the quick trip under the Thames by foot. It is a shortish tunnel, but very damp smelling! We went down in the lift, walked under the river, came up the other side, into the fresh air, and took some photos of Greenwich from across the river. Then we whizzed straight back through the tunnel again, as it was time to make our way to the O2 ready for the Gymnastics.
Here are the rings floating in the Thames just off Greenwich:
We had decided that the O2 was well within walking distance, so we set off along the Thames pathway eastwards. All was going well until we reached the point where there was a block of flats being built over the Thames Pathway. There were some signs that pointed vaguely in the right direction so we attempted to follow them…and of course we got lost!!! With the help of a friendly van driver we got back on the right road and managed to find the O2. As you cannot walk along the Thames, the route is not very pretty and involves walking along a busy road. I would not recommend walking this route, perhaps catching a bus from Greenwich or doing one stop on the Thames Clipper boat might be better.
As we approached the O2 we could see the new cable cars, and the blue platform over the top of the O2, where people can walk! This looked pretty hair-raising – they have to wear special overalls, and be tied onto a rope using a safety harness! It would be very exhilarating, but not an activity for a windy day!!
The Cable Cars:
The O2, complete with blue pathway:
Then we spotted the Olympic flags and the smiles of the volunteers, and our level of excitement rose.
The Olympic Experience
The security procedure for going into the O2 venue was very similar to the one at the Excel venue the previous day, and went just as smoothly.
The restaurants and bars inside the O2 were unchanged from normal (i.e. pre-Olympics) so there were lots of places for us to buy some lunch. We sat down in one of the "open air" restaurants inside the O2 for some great burgers and chips – we were very hungry after our walk!
Once we had re-fuelled we felt able to join the crush at the Souvenirs stall - we had decided that we would treat ourselves to some genuine Olympic venue-exclusive t-shirts today! There was rather a queue, and some of the designs had sold out of the popular sizes, but we were all able to find really nice t-shirts in the correct sizes! Plus we bought some fridge magnets, and Emily bought a commemorative 50 pence piece with Olympics Gymnastics on. The T shirts were quite expensive (£20 and upwards for adult sizes) but we felt we were buying something special as the exact same t-shirts could not be bought anywhere else.
After the crush of the t-shirt stall, we decided to find our seats - about 30 minutes before the competition was due to start. We were glad we did, as the entertainment had already started when we got inside the arena. The English National Ballet were performing an excerpt from Swan Lake - very beautiful. We were surprised how far back and how high up our seats were! We did not go for the cheapest band of tickets, and we were on the very top level (level 4) about half way back - a very long way from the field of play! We could not imagine how distant the view would be from the cheapest seats…
However, it did give us a very good overview of the whole event:
At first it was difficult to know what to watch - there were 4 different events on the 4 sets of apparatus going on at the same time. We sussed that it was good to watch the vault first, as that was over very quickly in each rotation, and then watch the other apparatus. There were two Brits in the competition - Hannah Whelan and Rebecca Tunney, and they were both in the same group, so that made it a bit easier to watch!
For me, the performance of the day was Gabrielle Douglas (the gold medal winner) on the floor exercise - so elegant and perfect.
After the competition, the podium for the medal ceremony was lowered from the ceiling on wires:
Here are the medals being awarded:
After the Event
When the medal ceremony was over, we made our way to the North Greenwich tube station. We didn't hurry as we knew that it would be crowded. There was a long queue for the entrance to the tube, but the queue moved quickly, and it wasn't a problem. There seemed to be lots of trains to take people away quickly. We got onto a tube train (which was crowded but you would expect that!) and found our way back to St Pancras ready for the train trip back to Nottingham.
The train back to Nottingham was crowded with Olympics visitors returning home, and we were glad we had booked our seats. We arrived back in Nottingham around midnight, tired but thrilled to have been part of the 2012 Olympics.