The 7th day Adventists consider Saturday as the sabbath, and the Jewish faith regard Friday night and Saturday as the Shabbat on which God created the Heavens and the Earth in six days and rests on the seventh. Well the seventh day of the Olympics is generally accepted as when the competition really starts, after the lesser, but not less popular, sports involving a ball, generally have already settled the medals. The first Friday is the start of Athletics competition, where perhaps for the first time in many Olympiads Britain has not got an outstanding team, with the exception maybe of the heptathlete, Jessica Ennis.
After two days off, it was a bit of struggle to get back into the swing of getting up to early to catch a train, but with a later start time it was a much more relaxed journey into the Excel. My task today was in the fencing arena, where we were watching some blokes trying to stab one another with swords, called variously epee, sabre and foil. It was all a bit over my head I’m afraid but it seemed very quick, with the combatants thrusting their weapons of choice at opponents who were dressed in a curious mixture of Star Wars type helmets complete with flashing red and green lights and what appeared to be armoured pyjamas, but what do I know? I’m not trying to sound ignorant but this was my first experience of fencing, except for repairing the bottom of the garden, and I only am only reporting what I saw. In any case if you want a sports report, read the paper or watch the box. We were in the seating area for competing athletes of whatever discipline, the ‘Olympic Family’, and Honoraries, the former being someone employed by the movement and the latter, former Olympic participants. We also directed the press and photographers to their respective seating areas. Not nearly as interesting as dealing with the paying public, because they are much more focussed, in the case of athletes, in seeing the opposition on the field of play, and meeting old friends and taking photos in the case of the others. Again the paid-for seating was filled to capacity which was very good for the image of these Olympics, and will go a long way to cement these celebrations as one of the most successful ever. Still, it was a short shift, so I was able to leave in the early afternoon, and decided to do something else on the way home.
The Excel is one of the most successful exhibition and event venues in London, and to expand its access, someone decided to build a cable car highway to join the Excel with the what is now called the North Greenwich Arena (NGA), previously the O2, and before that just the Dome. For something that was a temporary ‘tent’ in 2000, appearing in a Bond film and others, and was meant to last quite a short period, the NGA has lasted well and is now presumably a permanent building. The cable car was built quite quickly and was sponsored and paid for mainly by the Emirates airline and is quite rightly called the Emirates Cable Car. For the princely sum of £3.20 (with Oyster Travel Card) you get a 5-8 minute ride across the Royal Victoria dock to adjacent to the NGA. Here are some of the photos I took on the journey:
The Old Docklands
The O2 (NGA)
Unfortunately the ride was over all too soon, and we ‘landed’ on the south shore of the Thames, seeing the Thames barrier, City Airport and the whole landscape in East London from our view point 600 feet above the river. It will I think be a major attraction and it was a brilliant idea to build it there, well done whoever was responsible. The NGA is home to the Gymnastics and Handball, and is a very busy area. Luckily it was a very sunny, warmish day and it was a pleasure to get some fresh air, and take in the scenery.
As I said at the start, today the medals which only require the human body or in some cases a thrown weapon, start their competition and embody the true spirit as envisaged by the Greeks all those centuries ago. The other Olympic sports are perhaps later add-ons to give more universal appeal, but it is mostly considered that athletics are the Olympics. Discuss. Boxing tomorrow, morning start, early evening finish (for me that is) and wrestling on Sunday. I really appreciate your comments, good or bad, so please leave some using the comments click below. Thank you.