Olympic experience for Cupar’s Gina

Women's volleyball at the London 2012 Olympics.
Women's volleyball at the London 2012 Olympics.

AS an avid spectator of sports - yes all sports! - I was determined to see as much of the 2012 Olympic Games as possible - either on TV or at the actual events.

I was fortunate to receive two hockey tickets in my first application for tickets and then was one of the lucky winners in a Scottish Swimming ballot for swimming tickets.

And then in June I thought I would try the official website and yes, there they were gymnastics, volleyball, beach-volleyball and weightlifting tickets all still available!

After the excitement of the Olympic torch coming through Cupar, I was ready for action.

Arriving in London Marylebone’s station on day one I was somewhat apprehensive but it was a straightforward journey to the Olympic park by underground. The permanently happy volunteers encouraged everyone on their way, wherever they happened to be going.

And so to Olympic park - it was fantastic - a word I would use more after as the week progressed. The flow of people was faultless - easier in fact than walking along Princes Street. Security checks were speedily carried out at all venues by friendly, chatty squaddies, easily putting all airport security checks to shame.

In my excitement I arrived at the Aquatics Centre too early and had to wait in a queue - but again nobody was grumbling. I quickly recognised t-shirts supporting Hannah Miley, and discovered the wearers were her grandparents - friendly conversation followed and before we knew what was happening we were being ushered into our seats. I was very fortunate on day one at the swimming to see all six Scottish swimmers in their heats progress to semi finals and finals. This was of particular interest to me as I have known all these swimmers since they were in various Scottish national squads of which I was team manager. The atmosphere was electric and although I have been to hundreds of swimming events, this was special. The arena was designed to resemble a wave and this made it spectacular for viewing both the swimming and diving events. How could this exciting expedition of mine get better? Next I went by underground to the O2 arena, where I could not believe the spectacle in front of me as the gymnastics arena came into view. Never having seen gymnastics at this level, I was astounded by the brilliance and discipline of these athletes. After a two hour session, I was thrilled to see the GB men qualify for the team final.

Day two was a rest day - but still time to view the games on TV and see Lizzie Armistead win GB’s first medal - silver in the women’s road race and Becky Adlington win bronze in the pool. It was disappointing to read the press headlines that “Bradley Wiggans and Hannah Miley had lost gold medals” - no one loses a medal, someone else just happens to be better on the day.

Day three and back to work, with my son, - at Earl’s Court arena - again a pain free journey in and through London. Women’s volleyball was first on the programme and this is a sport that knows how to get the crowd going - before we knew it we were supporting the Chinese girls, the court sweepers and indeed anybody the announcer asked us to cheer for.

Day four was another visit to the pool, to see the great Michael Phelps in the 400IM and the men’s 4 x 200m relay - I have seen Michael Phelps swim before but I have never seen him as relaxed as he was in London - perhaps due to the fact that this was his final games. In winning his 19th medal he became the most decorated Olympian in history.

Day five - Horse Guard’s Parade and beach volleyball - is it an Olympic sport? I don’t know, but it was fun, noisy and it was exhausting.

Day six and it was back to the pool - no medals for GB but some outstanding swims from Phelps and Lochtie.

The excitement was everywhere, who was winning what? What was happening next? Where would GB’s next medal come from?

Afternoon and it was another sport on the Smurf Turf - the blue and pink hockey pitch - to see the eventual winners, Netherlands.

And so our Olympic adventure was over - but not quite, we were able to sit on the riverbank and watch the big screen, and see Sir Chris Hoy winning his fifth gold medal in the team sprint, and by the time we returned to our base in Banbury, GB were fifth in the medal table.

We decided it was time to head home to spend the next week glued to the TV - remembering “we were there”.