Clonliffe Harrier Alan Worrall in the first of two pieces shares his Olympic diary: ““Inspire a Generation” this was the motto/ slogan for London 2012 Games held from 27th July 2012 to August 12th 2012. The Irish public saw these games as being a “home games” due to the close proximity to the host city and a once in a lifetime chance to fly over and sample the Olympics. Ireland had received a taster first hand of the “Olympic Road show” on Wednesday 6th June when for the first time the Olympic Flame came to Ireland and was paraded through the streets of Dublin on a glorious summers day. I was privileged to see the flame on O’Connell Street with my daughter and later we saw Sonia O’Sullivan light the Olympic Cauldron in the Stephens Green. Fast forward to Monday 6th August and here I am at Dublin airport about to attend my fourth Olympics. My anticipation about getting over for the Games had been wetted the week previously as I watched the Olympic action down in Kerry in the rain. I had become acquainted with so many sports which I would not normally watch but due to the event time table and the glorious Kerry weather we had become experts in Archery, Canoeing, 3 day eventing, rowing etc. As we awaited our flight a special passenger was waiting to board. Ronne Delaney Olympic Gold medallist from Melbourne 1956 was on our flight could this be a good omen for things to come. More surprises a club colleague was also on the flight, Noel Guiden and family in tow. For this Olympics I was travelling with my dad who informed me on the flight that he had very vivid memories of Ronnie Delaney’s win in Melbourne plus that he saw the great man competing in both Lansdowne Road and Santry.
On arrival in London we caught the Gatwick Express Train to Victoria Station and then a short walk to our hotel which was located off Buckingham Palace Road. The atmosphere in London was electric, the fear about security and congestion etc had disappeared rapidly. The location of the hotel was ideal what with Victoria Station being a central hub for getting a train to Olympic Park and most of the Olympic venues and attractions . This Games for me was going to be a little bit different due to the high demand for tickets which resulted in many disappointed people getting none. With this in mind I made every effort to get tickets for other sports, having only managed to secure tickets for one athletics session. I subsequently found out that most regular Irish athletics supporters were in the same boat. Our Olympic odyssey brought us to the Olympic Park to see both Athletics at the Olympic Stadium and Hockey at the Riverbank arena. I would have no hesitation in saying that these were a well run and planned Olympics, from the volunteers to the access and exit to and from the sports venues. Everything was so well laid out and the Park itself catered for all ages and tastes (Mc Donalds, English and Italian cuisine etc . At the Athletics session on the Wednesday we got to see the men’s 5 k heat where Mo Farah was roared on by crowd, unfortunately Irelands Alistar Cragg did not make it out of his heat. But the highlight of that morning for sport in general was the female athlete representing Saudi Arabia competing in an Athletics event (800 metres) for the first time. This was most definitely a momentous event and even though the athlete did not qualify it was a big step for women’s sport in Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries.
On Thursday 9th August we attended the women’s football final at Wembley which was a most enjoyable evening a walk down Wembley way is one to experience what with both American and Japanese colours in attendance plus the odd union jack. The match itself was very enjoyable and saw the U.S beat Japan 2 :1. Prior to heading to the match we watched Katie Taylor win Irelands only Gold medal of the Games in a pub in West Minister enquiries on tickets the previous day were available with a price tag of over 200 sterling so we opted to watch it somewhere less expensive. Katie won the Gold in a very tightly fought bout but she produced the good’s and gave the country a great lift it so badly needed. Tune in to the website next week for more memories of London 2012.”
Next weeks notes: Sightseeing in London, Our walkers and marathon man Mark Kennelly take to the streets of London. Talking to the locals. Roll on Rio.