Tuesday, 7 August 2012
Olympics Day 11: Go faster
And what a session it was. First up were heats in the men's Keirin, which Olympic champion Chris Hoy (in the front of the pack at right) led in fine style, while always acknowledging the support of the hometown crowd. This is one of the things that makes velodrome competition so exhilarating: the cheers circle the venue with the cyclists. And it's a relatively intimate venue as well - only 6,000 seats, so there isn't a bad view in the place. Both photos at right were taken from my seat, which was quite a way up.
As for the Olympic Park itself, this is a real stunner. I've never been in this part of East London before, and when you're inside the park, it's hard to imagine that this was derelict land seven years ago when London was awarded the Games. (Although you can see it when you walk outside the park!) And there's no comparison with any of the other Olympic Parks I've seen (Sydney, Athens, Beijing and to a lesser extent Atlanta, where the concept of a park was only starting to emerge) - this is a true place of beauty, with attention to detail in the planting of native, wild plants around a river that runs right through the middle of it. There's plenty of space to sit in the grass and watch the Games on gigantic screens.
It'll be fascinating to see what happens here after the Games. Several venues are temporary, with the stadium, velodrome and a much smaller aquatics centre as the main remaining structures. It's possible to spot where roads are planned to run through here, which will make it much more accessible. It's also right next door to Europe's largest shopping mall, so that's rather handy as well. And the surprisingly large Olympic Village will become rather desirable housing after the Games.