Monday, 6 August 2012

Olympics Day 10: Party in the sand

I managed to get tickets a couple of weeks ago to the beach volleyball quarterfinals at Horse Guards Parade, a venue I had been curious about since they announced it a couple of years ago. And over the last week it has emerged as the fan's favourite venue at the London Games. But going in there at 9pm tonight in a light drizzle I wondered if it would be worth it.

Fortunately, the rain stopped before the matches began. My seats were very good, surprisingly (I took these photos with my phone), and the atmosphere in the stadium was electric, as the announcer put on his cheesiest voice and worked everyone into a frenzy of cheering, clapping and stomping. As for the matches, Germany beat Brazil and Netherlands beat Italy.

I'd been to beach volleyball once before, in Athens, and felt it was oddly cheap and tacky as an Olympic event - not because of the sport itself, which is pretty gruelling, but because of the blaring pop music and sexist cheerleaders. London went a long way to making things classier, of course, even including three male cheerleaders in the squad! And the setting was pretty incredible - Horse Guards Parade is a gorgeous building, with the lights of the London Eye peering in over Whitehall and the knowledge that David Cameron isn't going to get any sleep next door on Downing Street.

Today I also attended a press conference featuring Jamie Oliver at the London Media Centre - he was touting his campaign to improve nutrition in schools as usual. And I experienced my first sense of overcrowding on the London Underground as I entered what was like a bloodclot of people in the arteries around Green Park station - pretty intense. And I think it will be worse tomorrow as I head into Olympic Park for the track cycling at about the same time as 80,000 people are heading to athletics.

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