A beach volleyball match at Horse Guards Parade. (Reuters)
As we landed in Gatwick last Sunday evening, half an hour before time, the captain announced that it was 10 degrees outside. In a country that is often wet and gloomy, it was probably the best midsummer weather I have experienced.
Two female athletes from Great Britain had won medals — Lizzie Armistead a silver in women’s cycling and Rebecca Adlington a bronze in 400m freestyle swimming — raising hopes of a record-breaking Games and fuelling the national mood of celebration.
As they said here — “the show is on the road”.
It was sad to hear that we drew a blank in archery. My mood lifted seeing Gagan bagging the first medal, a bronze.
The sport that has caught the imagination of the British public (and all men in general) is beach volleyball (for women)! When the tickets went on sale, beach volleyball was one of the oversubscribed — second only to the 100m final. A year on, it remains the hot ticket of the Games. It is most likely because women wear very, very small bikinis and there is a troupe of bikini-clad cheerleaders who keep dashing out to dance the conga and writhe on all fours.
Looking at these girls gyrate a Swedish journalist commented “that’s just sex”. People have also felt that there would not be much work going on at Downing Street with this all-day festival being hosted at their back garden, the Horse Guards Parade.
While the Chinese have expectedly set the pace as far as the medal tally goes, some inspired and gritty performances are on view in every sport.
I am staying with friends in a quaint and beautiful township called Crawley, which is about a 10-minute drive from Gatwick. The house has a largish lake at the back, where one can go fishing after paying a fee. I tried my hand at angling once when I was here a couple of years ago, but the only thing I had managed to catch was a cold! The madness of Olympic games has not affected the people here and life carries on normally for them.
That is not the case when you take the half-an-hour train ride from here to London Victoria. The Olympic fever hits you, with flags, hoardings, people wearing Olympic T-shirts and special Olympic stalls helping out tourists with information on venues and train connections. People may criticise the traffic chaos, empty seats and security concerns, but I think London is doing a great job of hosting the greatest show on earth.
We have booked a train ticket to go to Manchester on August 7 for one of the semi-final football matches.
I spoke to my friend Dr Vece Paes, who is camping in central London along with Leander and his family, and hope to go to Wimbledon with them one of these days.
Before coming here, people had warned me that London would be more expensive than usual during this time. I had a pub lunch a few days back of two huge chicken and bacon sandwiches with salad, french fries and a pint of lager — all for £6 (about Rs 520).
There are millions of people in the heart of London with Olympic supporters and viewers arriving every day from across the world. One sees the best of fashion during any British summer. How wonderfully crisp the weather has been so far since the Games started and here’s hoping it stays that way.
The party has begun!
(The author is the CEO of CC&FC. He has travelled all over the world to watch sporting events)