Gallery: Feeling the buzz of the Olympics for the second time
I’VE been fortunate enough to see an Olympic Games before, reports Lizzie Williams.
In 2000, at the age of 15, my family and I made a rare five-hour trip from my home town of Wagga Wagga in rural Australia to the big smoke of Sydney.
As a typical teenager, and unaware of what I was about to experience, I was unfazed by the hype.
I never imagined I would be gob-smacked for a second time, 12 years older in 2012.
Now living in Ipswich, I found myself making my way to Stratford by tube on the Central Line. I was secretly ecstatic to be heading to a once in a lifetime opportunity, but again unaware of the scale of what I was about to experience.
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Mass advertising on every available wall space and T-shirt, and a hot train packed with people from all over the world, bar a few Londoners trying to go about their daily lives – this was to be expected.
But the architectural brilliance of the monstrous venues up close was not, nor was the roar of cheering crowds echoing through the Olympic Park from each and every building.
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“Welcome to Olympic Park, be happy, the camera loves you,” expressed one volunteer with way too much energy and access to a megaphone.
I was a convert, and hadn’t even walked through security yet.
Security, an operation of proportions I am sure has never been used before at such a large event. Scanned as if stepping on to an aeroplane, British troops spoke eagerly to visitors about their day ahead.
“What are you going to see today?
“Cheer loudly for us won’t you,” one soldier said.
People were holding passes for ticketed events, but also some had tickets that allowed them just to explore the park, a ticket for around �10 that I didn’t know existed, and some were going to travel up the infamous red Orbit Tower.
“Just being here and around the area, it’s electric, there’s such a vibe, and we’re really excited to be going up the tower,” said brother and sister David Hughes-Jones from London, visiting with his sister Ellen.
We were rushing through the park to go and see the men’s basketball preliminary round, and you couldn’t help but notice the vast variety of visitors.
Elderly, young, disabled, and people from every corner of the globe – it was glaringly diverse.
“I am very proud to be British right now, and play host to such a crowd.
“The ambience is amazing, and the volunteers couldn’t be happier to help,” said Ruth Pickover, a Trimley resident who made the trip down to Stratford with friends.
What seemed to be the only complaint from visitors was difficulties supporting Team GB.
“The only fault is that there are empty seats and we can’t get tickets and shout hoorah for Great Britain,” said Mrs Pickover.
On approach to the unusual white spiked Basketball Arena, a temporary building at the park, I had goose bumps as the walls vibrated from cheers, a very different atmosphere to the crowds soaking up the sun at the beach volleyball at Horse Guards Parade the previous day.
After two nail-biting games between Nigeria and Tunisia, and Brazil and Australia it was time to soak up the park atmosphere as thousands continued to flood in.
Entertained by free big screens, pop music being broadcast through speakers sprawled through the park, traditional English cuisine and various sponsor attractions, the Collis family summed up the day.
“We didn’t have event tickets, so came to see the park,
“It was just really nice to experience it and the children will remember it forever,” said dad Paul, exploring the park with wife Kate, and daughters Emily, nine, and Isabel, seven.
Are you going to the Olympics? Send us your iwitness accounts and photos to www.iwitness24.co.uk or download the app on your smartphone.