What can I say – pure entertainment. Never thought I would enjoy beach volleyball as much as I did. I would consider watching that regularly if I knew where to watch it and they played that well. The venue is on the Horse Guards parade with Somerset House, Downing Street and the London Eye in the background. It is only a 10 minute walk (usually) from the flat but today they made us walk all the way around St James Park to get into the stadium. It took us about 30 minutes to walk.
We had great seats (row 7). The stadium seats 15000 and by the time the matches started it was packed full. They started with a pre-show from the Welsh Guards playing some music including ‘We are the champions’. After they finished we got a brief run down of how beach volleyball works. And then the Horse Guard dancing girls came up for a little routine. Sort of like the dancers at 20/20 cricket matches but much better. Not that Jeff (my brother-in-law who went with me) or I actually looked much. We were too busy in prayer for the other people around us that were cheering so much.
We were watching the first matches in the round of 16. Women first and then the men second. Everyone keeps asking us why we were going to see beach volleyball and would it be the women’s beach volleyball. I have no idea why they ask that question. Clearly the men’s would be better (as it was) so not sure why they thought we wanted to watch the women’s only. The women was China vs Russia. The men was Brazil vs Germany (I was hoping for Brazil in the women’s but you can get everything right).
The one Chinese player was 1.91m. It was an unfair advantage. Where do the Chinese find a women of 1.91m? I never seen a Chinese male of that height and so where do they get a women of that height? They are the 2nd rank team and silver medalists from the previous Olympics and you could see the difference. They were dominant and won easily. There were some good rally’s but in general it was China all the way. The more dominant they became the more the crowd shouted for Russia.
During the short breaks (and they really are short), entertainment comes in the way of loud music, the dancing girls and the ‘rakey, rakey’ guys who came on to rake the court over the lines and under the net. The announcer was very funny and entertaining. They really did keep you entertained and involved the whole time we were (which was from 8:30am until about 10:40am). They get you singing along, clapping, doing the wave and even the ‘Conga’.
The men followed and even in the warm up we could see that it was going to be a much faster game. Brazil is the number 1 seed and ranked team in the world. The one player is 39 years old. The other guy was 2.03m. Not only was he tall, he could easily have been a lock in any rugby team. But the amazing thing was how quickly he moved and how agile he was. The game was much closer than the women’s match. The first set went 21-18 to Brazil. The game point was an amazing point with both teams diving around and saving impossible balls. Someone told me that beach volleyball was boring as there were no rally’s and it was just serve and win. That’s rubbish. I bet they have never watched an Olympic beach volleyball match in their lives. Some of the rally’s were just sublime. The Brazil team built up a quick lead in the 2nd game and even though the German’s came back and saved a few match points at the end, the Brazilian team were just too good and deserved the win. Very entertaining though.
Tonight it will be watching TV though (like the rest of you) to see how Mokoena does in the long jump final (that is at 19:55 UK time or 20:55 SA time in case you need to know). Tomorrow I have a whole day at Wimbledon. Going to be a tough day especially watching Federer v Murray (especially since I will be routing from Federer and everyone else in the stadium will be shouting for Murray).
Until then …