I'm Olly Offord, and I'm all over London like a rash this Olympics  
The Orbit being lit up in the darkening sky in the London 2012 Olympic Park.

The Orbit being lit up in the darkening sky in the London 2012 Olympic Park.

Experiencing the London 2012 Olympic Park


Initially buying tickets that only let you in to the Olympic Park without letting you see any actual live sport does seem a bit stupid. Admittedly, when I first confirmed payment I regretted that I might have paid £10 per person to get ripped off by McDonalds. It’s not even like Wimbledon where you can catch some of the lesser matches around the outside. The closest you can get to seeing the action is the big screen in the north of the park.
But, you get to experience something else; the crowds of people piling in to see the Olympics. The place is rammed with people who are there to see a wide range or things but are all keen for London 2012. The surrounding buzz is palpable as flags, face paint and weird outfits become bizarrely more attractive than they would in the outside world. Cheers can be heard from the basketball and hockey while you enjoy an overpriced chocolate bar. The energy about the place is infectious. And if you are British, there is nowhere you can feel more amongst like minds than in front of the big screen. Every time a Brit comes on, you wave and scream like they can hear you. Actually, they’re only a few hundred metres away - maybe they can.

The view from the stands at the London 2012 Olympic Hockey over the Olympic Park.

The view from the stands at the London 2012 Olympic Hockey over the Olympic Park.

Getting into the Aquatics Centre:

One of the flagship venues of any olympics is the Aquatics Centre and London 2012 is no different. The flowing structure has attracted the eyes of the world with Phelps, Le Cros and a series of teenage girls making headlines the world over. The aquatics centre is one of the hottest tickets in town.

Well, the swimming might be over and boy wonder Tom Daley not on till Friday, but the place is still being ‘packed to the gunwales’ with people desperate to experience the venue for themselves at the Olympic diving. The athletes might be bouncing off a board at one end of the pool, but that doesn’t stop a capacity crowd of 17,500 people cramming in and extending all the way down to the bottom end. This very evening, I was amongst the rabble - how lucky am I?

Up in the rafters of the cheap seats, behind the premium media terminals, there was someone to get us going - the 19 year old Chris Mears (the next Tom Daley, only he’s older). Not much of a medal hope, but still somebody to cheer for. And cheer we did. It is something the British public have excelled at these Olympics. The ladies on the rose wine next to us were joining in, the union jacks were waving, once every round we went mental.

But you’ve got to spread the love (and maybe grab some of the glory), so we allied with the latin guys in front of us:

"Chris, Chris, he’s our man. But if he can’t do it, the Mexican can."

The Mexican diver might have let us down and tumbled out of the medals in the later rounds, but Chris gave us a super-super reward for our loyalty. With his last dive he absolutely nailed it! With a score topping 100, it was impossible to shut us up. Scream, scream, scream! The Russian won, but, Chris, you’re my new hero.

And I can now safely say that I have experienced the frenetic fever of the aquatics centre.

Getting Ready for Sochi 2014:

It might not be a scorching British Summer, but as miserable as the rain in London has been recently, it has been no where near a Russian winter. But the organising committee for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics are giving it their best attempt to recreate snowy conditions in the middle of Hyde Park during the London 2012 Summer Olympics.

From fake snow before you even go in to snowboarding games and bobsleighs to pose with, it definitely feels like a winter wonderland. They have done an amazing job of creating the Winter Olympics experience. So much so that they even simulate the train journey to the venue and you can have a go bombing down a virtual luge (wind included).

By far the most immersive House I have been to so far.

Guaranteed Glory - London 2012 Olympic Triathlon:

While GB have been the favourites in many of this years Olympic events, no dominance was more assured that Alistair Brownlee in the Men’s Triathlon. Not only has he been world champion and almost unbeatable in the last few years, but if he was ever to break down, there is always a back up. The second GB favourite even has the courtesy to share the same surname for the sake of the commentators.

So Alistair and Johnny were a guaranteed crowd pleaser in the build up to the Men’s Triathlon this morning. As a consequence, an estimated 200,000 people showed up cheer them on around Hyde Park. 200,000! For a good view, you needed to make sure you were in position 3 hours before the start of the race. Some keen supporters showed up as early as 5:30am. By the start of the swim, the crowd was 10, 20, 30 deep in some places.

Was it worth the sore feet, the long wait and unbearable queues for the toilets? Hell yes! Alastair nailed it, never a shadow of a doubt. To try and add a bit of drama, Johnny got a time penalty but still came third. Hundreds of thousands of people got what they wanted - another Gold for GB!

A Mad British Public: The London 2012 Olympic Marathon + the Rain
It probably had something to do with a Supremely Super Saturday in which the Brits owned the athletics, but there was a feverish Olympic spirit down at the London 2012 Olympic Marathon on Sunday.
A huge number of people showed up early on a weekend morning to capture some Olympic action. The size of the crowd was bizarre for two reasons:
1. There was no real British interest following Paula Radcliffe’s withdrawal (a bit of shame. I wanted to hold a sweepstake on where she’d break down)
2. The weather was monumentally terrible. It bucketed it down at regular intervals from 9am till 2pm with a short interlude of thunder and lightning.
The marathon did three giant loops around central London and so, with the conditions not being ideal for spectators, I expected a large majority of people to drop off as the race progressed. But the stuck with it - right up to the very end. In fact, the girl from Timor Leste trailing in last place by a good 40 minutes turned into a classic British Underdog. Even after the last significant runners had gone past, thousands of people chose to stay and cheer her on over the last lap.
We are a mad bunch, but I love it!

A Mad British Public: The London 2012 Olympic Marathon + the Rain

It probably had something to do with a Supremely Super Saturday in which the Brits owned the athletics, but there was a feverish Olympic spirit down at the London 2012 Olympic Marathon on Sunday.

A huge number of people showed up early on a weekend morning to capture some Olympic action. The size of the crowd was bizarre for two reasons:

1. There was no real British interest following Paula Radcliffe’s withdrawal (a bit of shame. I wanted to hold a sweepstake on where she’d break down)

2. The weather was monumentally terrible. It bucketed it down at regular intervals from 9am till 2pm with a short interlude of thunder and lightning.

The marathon did three giant loops around central London and so, with the conditions not being ideal for spectators, I expected a large majority of people to drop off as the race progressed. But the stuck with it - right up to the very end. In fact, the girl from Timor Leste trailing in last place by a good 40 minutes turned into a classic British Underdog. Even after the last significant runners had gone past, thousands of people chose to stay and cheer her on over the last lap.

We are a mad bunch, but I love it!

Hyde Park Big Screens: This is more like it!
After a very unsuccessful trip to Victoria Park, I was nervous heading towards the much bigger experience of Hyde Park - a larger site has the potential to be even more empty.
I need not have feared. The place was rammed, it took half an hour just queueing to get it! And the atmosphere was buzzing. With four big screens, and it being a weekend of stonking British success, people a wave of people moved between each of them to catch Murray on Centre Court or Clancy in the veladrome.
The most exciting moments were reserved for fresh GB Gold Medals. Sat near the back, my view of the screen was obstructed by thousands of hands, flags and bodies flying into the air and the commentary drowned out by cheering, clapping and some very enthusiastic screams.
Now that GB are on the ascendance, the general public seem to be shifting into gear when it comes to supporting the home team and enjoying the Olympic circus
(damn glory hunters, I’ve been here the whole bloody time).

Hyde Park Big Screens: This is more like it!

After a very unsuccessful trip to Victoria Park, I was nervous heading towards the much bigger experience of Hyde Park - a larger site has the potential to be even more empty.

I need not have feared. The place was rammed, it took half an hour just queueing to get it! And the atmosphere was buzzing. With four big screens, and it being a weekend of stonking British success, people a wave of people moved between each of them to catch Murray on Centre Court or Clancy in the veladrome.

The most exciting moments were reserved for fresh GB Gold Medals. Sat near the back, my view of the screen was obstructed by thousands of hands, flags and bodies flying into the air and the commentary drowned out by cheering, clapping and some very enthusiastic screams.

Now that GB are on the ascendance, the general public seem to be shifting into gear when it comes to supporting the home team and enjoying the Olympic circus

(damn glory hunters, I’ve been here the whole bloody time).

Super Saturday on the Sofa:
I know, I know. The best ticket in town on Saturday night was obviously the London 2012 Olympic Stadium, but aside from that, the best place to be had to be the comfort of your own living room.
They don’t call it Super Saturday for nothing and with Great Britain winning 6 gold medals, the first being 11:30 in the morning with the Men’s 4- at the rowing through to the athletics at 21:30 and Mo Farah in the 10,000m, there was no better technology than the trusty TV remote.
Flicking between Andy Murray in the tennis to the dominant cycling made square eyes inescapable. I know it’s incredibly lazy and ironic to be watching the greatest athletes in your pjs, but is there anything better?

Super Saturday on the Sofa:

I know, I know. The best ticket in town on Saturday night was obviously the London 2012 Olympic Stadium, but aside from that, the best place to be had to be the comfort of your own living room.

They don’t call it Super Saturday for nothing and with Great Britain winning 6 gold medals, the first being 11:30 in the morning with the Men’s 4- at the rowing through to the athletics at 21:30 and Mo Farah in the 10,000m, there was no better technology than the trusty TV remote.

Flicking between Andy Murray in the tennis to the dominant cycling made square eyes inescapable. I know it’s incredibly lazy and ironic to be watching the greatest athletes in your pjs, but is there anything better?