Looking at the tickets for the athletic championships that Kavitha gives me, I have this impression that the athletes may look like ants from the seat I will be sitting. I check the schedule for the day and actually it’s not bad. Three events from the men’s decathlon and then the men’s and women’s 100 and 400m relay heats. This means I get to see the creme de la creme of the athletes. Now I am excited.
Once we get to the station, within 20 minutes we are in Stratford. We join the sea of people walking towards the venue. They make us walk the long route, so that we don’t clog up the Westfield shopping mall. There are a few scattered volunteers trying to raise our spirits, but it is nothing like the atmosphere of the Olympics.
We enter the Queen Elizabeth Olympic park and walk past the aquatic centre and the ArcelorMittal Orbit on the left. The Orbit is an observation tower designed by Anish Kapoor for the Olympics. It is quite an imposing structure which towers over the athletic stadium. After security checks and ticket scans we are allowed in. We find our seats and settle down. The seats are not as bad as I expected. We have a good view of the arena.
The first competition was the men’s 110m hurdles as part of the decathlon event. Kevin Mayer, the French decathlete was the one to watch as he was leading the board from the night before. Before the race started the athletes were introduced and during the race there was a commentary in the background and so it was like watching the event at home on the TV. Once the event was over a replay was shown on the big screens. This meant that we didn’t miss anything.
In between events, the announcer got everybody involved with dance cams, kiss cams, Bolt cams etc etc. He made everyone sway along to ‘Sweet Caroline’ and sing along to ‘Hey Jude’ and also do the Mexican waves. We had a fun time.
Next it was the women’s and then the men’s 100m relay. We shouted and screamed as we cheered our teams on and they both qualified for the finals. Luckily Usain Bolt or rather the Jamaican team were not in the same heat as the British and Northern Ireland team and so when Usain Bolt took his place in the race, everyone cheered for the Jamaicans. Bolt only had to look at the crowd for everyone to go wild. He finished his teams relay in his usual style when he thundered away from the rest of the athletes to help his team qualify for the finals.
Then came the women’s 400m relay. My loyalties got a bit divided when I saw the Indian team and I tried to cheer them on, the girls pulled off a poor performance but the men did a much better job. Sadly it wasn’t enough to qualify.
We saw a bit of the discus throwing event but didn’t stay to see the pole vault part of the men’s decathlon but decided to go and get some lunch. Although the weather forecast was for a cloudy day, it turned out to be quite a pleasant one. After lunch and a bit of shopping in the mall we left to spend the evening with Kavitha and the little one as Huw was working this weekend. As we walked to catch the train, those who had tickets for the evening were starting to arrive in their droves.
We got home in time to watch the events of the evening unfold. Our girls won silver in the 100m relay and our boys ran the third fastest time in relay history to snatch the gold from the Americans. But the sad part was that the Jamaicans did not finish the race as something happened to Usain Bolt as he started his part of the race and he ended up limping out of the stadium. This was meant to be his last race and it was sad to see him finish it in this manner. After seeing this I think I can categorically say that I was one of the spectators to actually witness the last ever race he completed. And thus we say farewell to the fastest man on the planet.