Olympic Football

Some of you have asked why I have been so quiet over this week. Well that is because I was actually working (and pretty hard at that too for a change). London might be quiet but that hasn’t stopped my UK staff keeping me busy this last week. I did make sure I got home to watch the evening athletics though generally.

Yesterday was the football final and I had a ticket (and was entertaining clients) for Wembley. The game was between Brazil and Mexico for the gold medal. It started at 3pm but we had hospitality included in our tickets and so we met at 12pm for lunch at the stadium. As you can see from the picture, the weather in London has been really good the last few days. It was 26 degrees yesterday and today it is around 28 degrees.

First time I have been to Wembley Stadium and it is quite an impressive stadium. We had superb seats just to the right of the half way line about 20 rows up (directly behind where the Mexican coach was positioned). Fortunately we were in our seats as the game started because Mexico scored in 32 seconds from the kick off. Brazil actually kicked off so you can tell from that they made an absolute mess of the start and basically gifted Mexico the goal.

Mexico dominated the possession and game during the first half and fully deserved their 1-0 lead at half time. It wasn’t great football though but fortunately the 2nd half was much improved with a more open game which created opportunities for both teams. Mexico scored again and at 2-0 with only a few minutes left there was pretty much no hope for Brazil. They did have a few chances in those minutes and eventually did net one but at that point there was only 3 minutes to go and Mexico just hoofed everything down field and so they won (in what was somewhat of an upset) 2-1. The Mexican supporters in the ground went crazy and by the time I got on the train about 2 hours after the finish they still were going for it. Big party night for them.

One of our clients managed to get sick and throw up at half time. He left immediately the match left (understandably) but I would have preferred if he hadn’t shook my hand! Kept that hand apart of the rest of me and didn’t touch anything until I could get to the bathroom and it is a good scrub with soap and hot water.

The crowds leaving the stadium were just ridiculous. By the far the worst I have experienced at any Olympic event. This was after I waited for about an hour after the finish to avoid the crowds! That clearly did not work. It took me an hour to get on the train and home. Can’t really complain too much because generally there were no or only few delays.

After having been to 5 Olympic events, the football was my least favourite one. It didn’t really feel like an Olympic event. The clients seemed to enjoy it though.

So that is my Olympic experience over as I head home tonight. I did get a last minute experience today as the men’s marathon finished around 1pm very close to the flat so I “experienced” some of the crowd waiting for the runners to come through. I did think though that given I am pretty experienced now in Olympic matters I could conclude my Olympic blogging with some (random) thoughts about the Olympics so here they are:

1. The Olympic Oath is “In the name of all the competitors I promise that we shall take part in these Olympic Games, respecting and abiding by the rules which govern them, committing ourselves to a sport without doping and without drugs, in the true spirit of sportsmanship, for the glory of sport and the honor of our teams.” Right. Sure. Say those words and then the competitors pretty much break each part of those. The 1500m was won by an athlete just back from a doping ban (wonder what he was during his ban?); bronze medal in the 100m to an Athlete who has twice been bust for doping and our own Cameron vd Bergh wins gold by cheating in tbe Breaststroke by using a butterfly kick and even admits it but says it is ok because he couldn’t win otherwise. He then proceeded to say that it is important for him for the ethics of the sport to admit he did it. Umm, I think that is confused ethics. How about not cheating to win the gold?! I know he is from SA but I would rather have him give the medal back.

2. 82 men have run under 10 seconds in the 100m – 81 of those are black. And just before the race the BBC runs a segment on whether running (and speed) is nature or nurture. Let me answer that one, if you’re black you could be nurtured to run in under 10 seconds. If you’re white, don’t bother trying it ain’t in your nature.

3. Who invented some of these sports and what were they smoking at the time? Dressage for instance. I understood that the Olympics was for people and not for animals. I didn’t see any of the horses parading around during the opening ceremony. So why how does a horse doing tricks get you a gold medal at the Olympics? And who would ever not use their hands to stop someone kicking you in the head like in Taekwondo? And how does that scoring work – kick the guy in the head you get 3 points, kick the guy in the chest and you get 1 point. And their are style points for how you kick the guy? Really?! Style for kicking?!! All I would do is kick the guy between the legs and move on to the next competitor. I could win a medal in Taekwondo. Rather bring back some of the sports they ditched from the Olympics where there was no dispute who the winner is. Like ‘Duelling pistols’ which was stopped in 1906 (I guess the problem was that the silver medallist couldn’t collect their medal and they couldn’t decide who gets bronze). Or maybe ‘Live Pigeon Shooting’ (stopped in 1900) – whoever killed the most pigeons got the gold (they could have held that event at Trafalgar Square this year).

4. Someone said to me this week any sport that requires judges to give you points should not be at the Olympics. How does one person doing three turns and jumping in the pool get less points than one person who only does one flip but makes less of a splash? I am in agreement with this thought. I suspect we might be headed for Ballroom dancing becoming an Olympic sport otherwise.

5. Beach Volleyball is my new favourite sport.

6. What happened to all the unfriendly Londoners? Someone actually spoke to my on the tube this week (in fact it happened more than once). And 3 people stopped me to ask for help. I was afraid I was about to get mugged. Held on tight to my wallet during those exchanges but it turned out they really were in need of help. The only question is now whether they will stay this way or whether on Monday they go back to being grumpy again.

7. The Brits do know how to organise things. The organisation has been extremely well done. They really can take a bow. I don’t believe you could improve much on how things have worked. The IOC should just make a decision to allow London to host all Olympic games.

8. Why on earth do they give posies to the winners? I can understand giving flowers to the women but the men, really?! I know this the first Olympic games to have gender equality but really, I don’t know a man that wants a posy. I bet they just get thrown away or handed to the nearest good looking female they see. They could have saved a lot of money.

9. Who says arrogance doesn’t get you places? Anyone watch and/or listen to Usain Bolt over the last few days. His arrogance is so extreme it is actually funny. The guy can run though (but then he is black so we shouldn’t be surprised – see point 2).

10. And my last thought, are we reaching the end to improvement in times and distances. Only three world records in the athletics and two of those in relays. There is an interesting link if you’re interested in this type of thing. You can see the improvement in the 100m here:

Those are my thoughts exhausted. Thanks for your comments (for those of you who did comment).

Olympic Tennis Finals

I have to say that I am disappointed that only one person was honest enough to put their height & weight into that website and admit which athlete they came out as. Not even my sons … really disappointed. I am wondering whether anyone is even reading these blogs? Feel like I am talking to myself. I will put my disappointment behind me and write this blog anyway.

Sunday am I was off at 8:45am to ensure that I got to Wimbledon by 9:30am when they opened the gates. The tennis was only starting at 12pm but the hospitality started at 9:30am and so I had to get there at the start to ensure that I could entertain the clients. I was lazy and didn’t want to take the tube so I got a car to pick me up and take me there. Turned out to be a good decision because it was raining and as I went through security it started to rain really hard. I am pleased that they put a roof on Centre Court!

The hospitality included pastries & coffee at 9:30; champagne and canapes at 10:30 and then a 4-course lunch at 11:30. At 12pm they started with the ladies doubles final. The betting around the table was that the Williams sisters would win 6-1 6-2 or 6-1 6-0 or something similar. We finished lunch by about 12:45 and the Williams sisters had already won the first set and were well on the way to the second.We had great seats (on the service line about 12 rows up). I was amazed at how close we were to the court and how small the stadium really is. On TV you get the feeling that it is much bigger than it really is. It was like standing at the top of the stairs of our tennis court and watching someone play. The Williams sisters did win 6-4 6-4 and the match anticipated final of Federer v Murray was next up.

As it has stopped raining they opened the roof and it became quite hot sitting in the sun. Don’t worry – I had a hat to protect my bald spot and I cleverly had put on sunscreen before I left. As you all know the match turned out to be a major anti-climax as Federer played the worst I have ever seen him play and Murray played extremely well. He was hitting winners from all over the court and he had about 5 net touches which just dropped over the net (versus Federer who had none). The atmosphere in the stadium was incredible. In between points people were chanting “Andy, Andy, Andy” and when he won the place just went beserk. It was spine chilling. They did the medal ceremony immediately afterwards and I almost joined in with the singing of ‘God save the queen’ I was so moved. The crowd cheered them all around the stadium as they came around for their medal lap.

It was then time for afternoon tea. It was Wimbledon was that would be scones & clotted cream and strawberries. They offered tea – I went for a beer! Only Heineken is served as they are the official sponsors.

It was then back to the court to watch the mixed doubles with Andy Murray featuring again. He and his partner (Robson) got off to a cracking start and ran away with the first set. It looked like it would be another gold for Team GB. The atmosphere was almost more electric than the Murray v Federer game with the crowd chanting “Team GB; Team GB” to drown out the occasional “Belarus, Belarus” chant.  But the Belarus pair came back superbly and spoilt the party by taking the 2nd set and then winning the 3rd super-set as well and getting the silver medal. Murray still got Gold & Silver and would surely have taken that at the beginning of the day.

The medal ceremony for the ladies doubles was then done. I would not normally blog about this as it would have been pretty boring had it not been for the Czech pair’s footwear. Blue Boots! Or more precisely ‘Wellies’! Are you kidding me? What were the designers thinking?! The only thing I can think is that there were expecting a lot of rain in London and hence the choice of footwear.  Or maybe the Czechs do have a sense of humour and fun? Either way, if I was a Czech athlete I would rather refuse to wear those things and go bear foot.

Full day. Got back to the flat at after 8pm. Almost 12 hours entertaining clients. Tough day. The extent I go to for clients. One more event to go next Saturday for me. I probably will post a mid-week blog of items of interest and some more Olympic comments.

Olympics – Some interesting links

Before I head out to the tennis this morning I thought I would do a post on some interesting links/posts about the Olympics. The first is a recommendation to read another blog. This guy decided to put together a team for the Olympics from the Bible. Very amusing. Just to wet your appetite, here are some of the “team members”:

Peter: He cut off someone’s ear with a sword, so he would be a pretty formidable opponent.

Any event
Judas: OK, he may not win the gold medal, but we all know he’d do anything for silver.

There are some really funny ones if those aren’t good enough for you yet. Trust me. Read it. Link is:


The second link I am going to recommend is the BBC webpage. Now I know news pages can be boring but this one is quite cool. What you do is put your height and weight in and it tells you which athlete you are like. Maybe you’re going to be similar to a Kazakhstan Female Weightlifter (like one of the guys in our UK office) or maybe you can just lie (like another staff member) and suggest you’re Roger Federer or Sir Chris Hoy. Either way, it’s pretty funny and so I challenge each of you to post as a comment who you are most alike! I know you’re wondering about me – unfortunately no one as exciting as I would have liked – Luke Hall from Switzerland (swimmer I have never heard of) and S Freixa from Spain (hockey) – though I do look as good as him. Here is the link: 


Olympic Beach Volleyball

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.

Of course it finished with a little dancing routine again and then a 30 minute walk back to the flat again. A very good way to consume 2 hours of a Saturday morning.

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 …

Olympics – First Night of Athletics

Olympic fever is running throughout London. Everywhere you look people are wearing their national colours and seem to be coming back from an Olympic event. Though it seems that besides these Olympic tourists everyone else has left London! I took the tube to work this morning at 8:45am and it was half full. I don’t think that has ever happened to me in the 3 years I have be coming to London regularly. Very weird. And they keep putting out flashes on the news services saying that the congestion is going to be a problem from today. And then today comes and goes and you’re wondering what congestion. Today was another repeat of that for me!

At one stage today I was on the phone to SA and when I stepped out of my office I wondered what had become of my staff. Not a single one to be seen. My first thought was rapture but I wrote that off almost as quickly especially since I know the staff. Second thought was that they had gone for a staff meeting and were all waiting for me. And then I heard a cheer from around the corner and they were all watching TV (Olympic rowing finals). Even the non-sporty staff members have the Olympic website open checking the schedule and watching the medals flow in for Team GB.

I left early this afternoon so I could get to the Olympic Park. On the way to the tube I always walk past a small park. Today everyone was sunning themselves on deck chairs. Where the deck chairs suddenly appeared from I have no idea but the English were making full use of them and the sun (which hasn’t been seen much recently).

We headed for the Olympic Park at 4pm. Took the tube from Westminster to Stratford. At the penultimate station they announced that we should get off there because there was at least a 45 minute wait if we went to Stratford to get into the Park. We ignored them and wisely so as it took us about 10 minutes to get in. The biggest delay was that the ticket scanner the guy was using to confirm our tickets had stopped working.

The quantum of people coming in and out of the Park was significantly greater than last Friday though. People were leaving from this afternoons events at the Stadium, Aquatics Centre etc. The Park restaurants were also very full and so we decided to just enter the stadium. It was pretty empty and so easy to get drinks and food (or at least easier than it became about an hour later). I went down again about an hour later and they were sold out of beers!

The athletics started at 7pm. It started with the Shot Put for the Heptathlon and then the ladies discus qualifications. Some interesting sized women in that batch. The women’s 100 meter heats then also started. You sort of didn’t know where to look at stages there was so much happening.  Then the men’s long jump also started up. We had the discus and long jump pretty much in front of us. The long jump included the only South African athlete competing tonight – Mokoena. The atmosphere was great. Any Team GB person got extra cheering.

We also had the men’s 1500 meter heats and the final of the men’s shot put (almost as big as the women discus throwers). The heptathlon also had the 200 meters and the British athlete (Jess Ennis) is the favourite to win that. She was winning after this mornings 2 events and then lost the lead after the shot put as a Lithuanian athlete threw the shot about 2 meters further than anyone else and got a lot of points for doing that. However, Jess ran a fantastic 200 meters and even though she came second in her race, the race she was in was the fastest of the night. When they consolidated the points she was ahead by some margin and they announced that after 4 events this was the most number of points ever accumulated. Expectations are high for tomorrow.

The long jump took a long time. I thought the ‘long’ stood for distance but now I know it stands for the length of time it takes to get through a qualification round. One of the favourites bombed out as he fouled all three jumps. Mokoena fouled his first, jumped 7.82 for his 2nd. At that point they announced that it looked like you had to have a jump of 7.92 or better to make the finals. I thought he was toast. But with his last jump he does 8.02 and just like that he was through to the final. Fantastic to see right in front of me.

The final event of the night was the women’s 10000 meters. I cannot believe they do 10000 meters in 30 minutes. That is 3 minutes per km (or for those of you who still work in miles – 4.6 minutes per mile). In case you haven’t worked it out – that is 20km/h.  If you don’t know how quick that is – go to the gym, set the treadmill on 20km/h and try to do one km at that pace and see how difficult it is. Most people couldn’t even sustain that pace on a bicycle. Of course the African athletes lead the race from start to finish. It was pretty much 3 Kenyan athletes and 3 Ethiopian athletes. Unfortunately one of the Kenyan’s dropped out with an injury on the last lap. By 3rd last lap they were lapping some of the slower runners. The winner (Dibaba) really accelerated over the last 400 meters and in the end won by 6 seconds – the gap looked bigger than the time sounds.

I come with my brother-in-law, his daughter and two of their friends from SA. As I wanted to miss the worst of the crush I suggested we leave immediately. The ladies wanted to stay more and see the post show (they are trying to spread the transport burden). Jeff and I left. We got out relatively quickly and managed without a lot of problem to get onto the tube. We got home just after 11pm. The girls arrived almost an hour later.

Need to go to bed so that I am fresh for tomorrow’s event!



Back in London

I have just arrived back in London. The flight over last night was not even full. We left late, arrived early at 6:45am. Hardly anyone at Heathrow and for the first time in a long time the Iris scanning was working as well. Straight onto a Heathrow Express to Paddington. No queue at the Paddington taxi rank. Where have all the people gone? The taxi driver asked me how busy Heathrow was and I said not at all. He said central London is also ridiculously quiet and he is struggling to get fares. He said there aren’t even any traffic jams. Why can’t it always be like this?! From the time the plane touched down to the moment I arrived at the flat took me 1 hour 10 minutes. I don’t think you could do it much quicker (especially at the pace I walk).

Off to work now for 1/2 day. Athletics tickets for tonight. First night of the athletics. Should be great. SA’s silver medalist long jumper is in action at 19:50 (20:50 SA time). I will be cheering for him! And to finals in the swimming tonight as well. Can Chad get us another medal? Tonight when I get home I will send another blog about the athletics.

Let’s hope it is another good day for SA (also on the cricket field!).

Olympic Opening Ceremony – WOW

Yesterday we have the privilege of attending the opening ceremony. One of my Gen Re clients invited me and how could we turn down that opportunity. Now I am sure the ethical people are saying how can you accept an invitation like that. Yes, you’re right – I cleared it with my company who when I asked the powers that be just replied said “ENJOY”. And ENJOY we did.

We had to be at the hotel (Strand Palace Hotel) at just after 1pm in order to register, get our tickets etc. The hotel was pretty much taken over by Lloyds Banking Group (who invited us). We registered, got a whole lot of free stuff (British scarf, Olympic pin, Olympic guide) and most importantly got our tickets. We only used the hotel room to discard of the packaging. It was the typical small London hotel room. Double bed but the one side of the bed was up against the wall so if two people were sleeping in it and the one up against the wall wanted to get out, it would be impossible without jumping on the other person.

At 2pm we had an invite to lunch at Christopher’s for a select group of the Lloyds invitees. Lloyds Banking Group own Scottish Widows (an insurer) and that is who invited us and they organised the lunch. The lunch was good but nothing spectacular. After lunch we headed for Waterloo to catch the tube to Stratford and the Olympic stadium. They did not organise a coach to take us as you can’t really get near the Olympic Park and they were told to rather take the tube. After about 1 stop the tube was packed. It did thin out a little but not much. Everyone was heading to the Olympic Park.

From the station it is about a 15 minute walk to get to the Olympic Park. They asked to see that we had tickets about 5 or 6 times before we even got near the Park. At the Park you have to go through airport type security. It was an absolute breeze again. And again I was expecting to queue and they were warning it could take up to 2 hours. Absolutely no queue at all. Straight through. And the people involved were incredibly pleasant. I told them I hoped they would move to Heathrow airport after they were finished the Olympics. They had more scanning machines than I have ever seen at one place.

We walked around the Olympic Park and had a look at most things. They have a 30000 ft MacDonalds (or as Paul calls it – the Devils food). Purpose built for the Park alongside everything else. The problem is that there are not enough food and drink stations. They could have double what they have. It is the one blemish on their organisation. If you’re looking for a good queue then the beer stand was the place to find it. It never let up the whole evening. After we had done the walk (and called to wish my parents for their 49th wedding anniversary), it was 6pm and we were hot (it was very humid) and ready to sit down. We headed to our seats. You have to go onto ‘Olympic Island’. The stadium has water on three sides and so you have to go over a Bridge which is also the ticket entry point to get into the stadium itself (you can see the entry in background behind Helen’s head).

Our seats were 5 rows from the top but almost in the middle of stadium (just slightly to the left). For the opening they were great because you had an amazing perspective and can see everything happening. If you watched the opening we were exactly opposite where Her Majesty, the Queen, was sitting. We were asked to be seated by 7:30pm and most people were though the show only started at 20:12. That was the pre-show where they warmed us up and gave us instructions of what was required from us. All this time the opening country scene was in operation in front of us with people playing cricket, others having a picnic, sheep being herded, a horse and cart in operation, farming etc. And they just kept going until the opening was broadcast live on TV which was about an hour later. They even had fake clouds and they could even rain but the British weather played its part at this point and the heavens opened instead. It wouldn’t be England without a little rain.

The countdown to the beginning started and the excitement level rose. Bradley Wiggins (Tour d’France winner) opened the show with a strike on the Bell which is the biggest tuned Bell in the world and will remain where it is for 200 years (God willing that is) until it needs to be retuned. The manufacturers already have that date in their diaries apparently! And then the show commenced. And it was a show to remember. I did have relatively high hopes for a good production but this exceeded it by miles. There is no way that TV could capture the whole thing and the atmosphere around it. Helen was almost moved to tears at parts.

They changed scenes from the Village to the Industrial revolution and they did it without stopping the show. How does someone think up 4 hours of entertainment like this? Danny Boyle was the man behind it and he must have an amazing mind to envisage something like this. And where did those smoke stacks come from? And if you looked closely you would have seen that there were people on the sides of the smoke stacks. There is no way to really properly explain the whole thing and what was going on. It really was incredible. I battle to come up with sufficient superlatives to describe it.

The arrival of the Queen was also very well done and for a second or two we thought that they were going to land the helicopter in the stadium. It was a brilliant touch having Daniel Craig ‘taking’ the Queen to the stadium. The crowd loved it and it was great to see her ‘playing’ along. The highlight was Rowan Atkinson playing in the Orchestra during Chariots of Fire. The whole stadium was in hysterics (and believe from the comments on Facebook so was most of the World).

The only slightly boring part was the almost two hours it took for all the athletes to come in. 208 countries. About 100 of them I never heard of before. I needed an atlas. Everyone took the opportunity to go to the toilets and join the food & drink queues. I went to the toilet just after Canada came in and when I got back to my seat it was Czech Republic being announced. I never even missed a letter in the alphabet! Helen and I started playing a game of thinking up what countries would be in the next letter to see how many we could get. I think we only got ‘R’ correct. When South Africa came in Helen and I both jumped up and shouted and cheered (we were the only ones in the whole section doing it) and that at least gave us (and everyone) else some entertainment. The entry of Team GB was amazing. The crowd went crazy and everyone was caught up in it.

The lighting effects were amazing as well. Behind each seat was a light panel and created the effects that you can see in the photos. We also had to move them around from time to time to give effects of movement or flashing. Again, who thinks up these types of things? The torch lightening ceremony was also a highlight (how many highlights were there!?). And after the lighting of the torch, Paul McCartney finished off the evening with the singing of ‘Hey Jude’ and everyone in the stadium joined in. 

And then it was over. It took us about 20 minutes just to get out of our row. I also wonder what would happen in an emergency. We certainly would have been burnt alive or buried in the rubble. And we still had to get to a station and then onto a train. Helen and I managed to walk past about 10000 people when we did get out of the stadium. There were a number of routes home and Helen and I just went for the route that seemed to keep moving and we criss-crossed the crowd to find it. We eventually ended up heading for Stratford International station. We had to wait to get into the station and while we were waiting one of the volunteers just entertained us with his megaphone. The volunteers were amazing. They were always smiling, chirping and commentating. They kept you entertained even when you were just standing doing nothing. And they aren’t even being paid.

We got onto the Docklands Light Railway and then changed at West Ham onto the District line. By the time we got onto the District line it was 1:20am and we had 16 stations to get back to St James. We got back to the flat at 2:15am. But every minute of inconvenience was worth it.

We are flying back to SA this evening but don’t worry – I am back next week again for more Olympics. I have 4 more sets of events and so you will definitely get some more blogs in the next 17 days. Go SA – just watched Chad le Clos whip Michael Phelps in the heats of the individual medley. Let’s hope he repeats that tonight in the final.

Olympics 2012

Helen and I left on Wednesday evening for London for the opening ceremony of the Olympics.  We hardly get invited to anything (as Gen Re is a wholesale business we don’t really have suppliers, we just have customers) and so being invited by a client (from the UK) who is a main sponsor of the Olympics is a great honour. I expected the flight to be jam-packed full but it wasn’t. Obviously no one else from SA was invited or they left already. As we came into London the pilot announced that they were expecting Thursday and Friday to be the busiest two days ever in Heathrow’s history and so we should expect delays. Delays to get to land, delays at passport control, delays waiting for your luggage, train delays, road delays – you name it – expect delays.

So with my expectations set for everything to take much longer than usual, we did only 1 hold over Oxam (usual place where most planes waiting to land at Heathrow spend 20 minutes). We landed and went straight into the gate. Door was opened promptly and Helen (after fighting her way to the front) was first off and into the terminal building. I am what is called ‘terminal building’ fit and so there is only one person so far I have traveled with that keeps up with my pace and that is my son (Michael in case Stephen started having illusions about his walking pace).  But Helen did well yesterday and we arrived at passport control about 2-3 minutes before the next person from our plane arrived. There were no other people except border officials at passport control. And I have never seen so many border officials as I saw yesterday. Every counter was open and waiting. Obviously we went straight through and as we only had carry on luggage we also went straight out.

Because I travel so frequently on SAA, they pay for a car to take me into London. I almost didn’t book it yesterday because I thought the road into London would be a nightmare because one lane is a dedicated Olympic lane (for officials and athletes only). But I took the chance that because we were landing early it would hopefully not be too bad. We were in the car at about 6:40am and, given that I was expecting terrible traffic, there was hardly any delays and we made it into our flat by 7:30am.  I went to work on the tube (as usual) and even if the tube was relatively empty – I could stand without breathing down on someone squashed below me. And just to round off the shock and surprise of no delays and hardly any people on the transport system, the sun was shining and the temperature was already 22 degrees and expected to be 27/28 degrees (which it easily got to).

I (of course) worked for the day while Helen did her usual and shopped. You would swear she hadn’t been in London last week doing shopping the whole week. Some of my staff pitched up at work at about 10am because the Olympic torch passed quite near the office. I figured I would go and see it in the stadium rather. Though later in the day Helen was watching TV and following the torch traversing London though all 33 boroughs of London when she noticed that it was about to arrive at Westminster. So she quickly headed down and watched it pass. Sorry for the poor quality pic but she said it was either watch the torch go by or take a decent photo and she opted for the first.  That and the fact that she has a useless camera as it was her iPhone 3 camera (Helen still can’t let go of her outdated iPhone 3).

The excitement and Olympic spirit has definitely swept through London. Much so than last week. Everyone is keen to see the start and excited to get things underway. Though officially the games have already kicked off with the women’s football (hope you got that Rick). Not sure if you heard about the superb organizational start – the South Korean flag was displayed next the players names at the start of the match. Only problem was it was North Korea playing. They walked off the pitch and it took an hour and half to correct the flag and persuade the North Koreans to come and play again. The type of thing that could trigger off a war!

Off to work now but only for half the day as we have to be at the hotel at 1pm this afternoon for the beginning! I promise to take some better photos than the one I posted today.