No self-respecting British blog could let the Olympics pass by without at least one mention. We had two cracks at the torch relay as it visited both Winchester and Southampton on different loops of the route. I’d stupidly booked a meeting to clash with the first so, although I cycled in and soaked up some of the atmosphere, I was back at work by the time the torch bearers hit the city (although I did cycle past a bus containing a whole rack of torches heading the wrong way out of town!). The torch was due to end a day in Southampton and the whole family headed in to see the spectacle. We weren’t the only ones by any means – we failed to buy a ticket for the train as the one ticket machine at Chandler’s Ford station was overwhelmed and I finally handed over my credit card to the guard on the train as we hit the tunnel on the approach to Southampton Central.
Unfortunately, it was rather a damp wait for the torch. We had some over-priced food to eat, had our photo taken with an unlit torch (Duncan looked particularly wet and grumpy!) and picked up some fairly naff freebies from the relay sponsors (Samsung/Lloyds/Coke). We watched the Isle of Wight ferry arrive carrying the (lit) torch and Emma may have had reasonable sight of it from my shoulders as it passed by on the road in front of us. We decided not to wait for it to return from its long tour of the city and the lighting of the cauldron.
Unlike many friends, we had been successful in the first ballot for tickets having bagged two tickets for the Women’s Modern Pentathlon. Unfortunately we didn’t get anything for the children so, whilst up in Monmouth, Christine took them to see some Women’s Football at the Millennium Stadium. The Japan vs South Africa match wasn’t the most exciting with no goals. Apparently the tip up seats were the most exciting part of the trip! The classic quote from Emma was apparently “Why don’t they just have a ball each?”!
Fast-forward to the last day of the games and, with Christine’s parents minding the children, we had relocated to London and were on a six o’clock bus to catch the train to Stratford. We were in to the Olympic Park shortly after the gates opened at seven which gave us time to explore a little and still get a good seat in the Copper Box for the fencing. I can’t claim to have any previous experience/knowledge of fencing but with every competitor having to compete against every other then there was plenty of time to learn the ropes. With two Brits in the mix there was also plenty for the home crowd to cheer for.
There was a reasonable break between the fencing and the swimming which gave us a chance to explore the rest of the beautifully landscaped park before hitting the aquatics centre. In contrast to the fencing, the 200m swim was over in no time at all. We then had to hot foot it across London to the final venue of the day, Greenwich Park, for the horse riding and combined event (running shooting). The horse riding was a lottery in every sense (there is a draw to allocate two competitors to each horse). The argument is that its a test of the riders skill to be able to tame any horse but some were definitely more obliging than others. There was one in particular that kept refusing jumps. Another competitor cleared a jump while hanging from the under side of her horse!
It was only as the last few riders completed their rounds that it became clear that Samantha Murray would enter the final stage in the mix for a medal. As the chasing start got under way for the combined event, the volume of the crowd steadily rose as she worked her way up and entered the stadium for the final time in second place. A silver for Britain in the final event of the Olympics! A fantastic end to a fun day out at the Olympics.