The following is a guest blog by the British Embassy´s Communications Manager, Jill van de Lint, about her experience at the London 2012 Olympic Games
As a long time athletics fan and having seen past Olympic champions like Linford Christie, Paula Radcliffe and Steve Cram run at Crystal Palace, when I knew London had been awarded the Olympics I said “I have to be there”. I applied back in June 2011 from the Dutch website for tickets for the athletics and could not believe my luck when I found out I had tickets for the stadium on ‘Super Saturday’.
Saturday 4th August could not come quick enough though and as we approached the Olympic Park we could just feel the excitement in the air as we were welcomed by the cheerful and patient Olympic volunteers in their distinctive purple shirts. The more than 70,000 volunteers working at the games did a great job and added to the very positive atmosphere both in the Olympic Park and elsewhere in the capital. There were no long queues and the security checks were so efficient that in no time at all we were sitting down to our breakfast from a well known fast food outlet – pretty good it was too.
Despite the crowds you can’t fail to be impressed by the design of the Olympic Park with impressive stadium, a track that has been described as being so fast it has been compared to a magic carpet, aquatics centre and velodrome. It is all surrounded by a most beautiful display of wild flowers and it’s noticeable that there is no rubbish lying around – the recycling bins are being used – and no queues for the toilets.
But coming back to the athletics there are just not enough superlatives to describe my Olympic experience but I will try a few – breathtaking, amazing, unforgettable, awesome, fantastic… and so it goes on. A beautiful stadium filled with enthusiastic supporters from all over the world celebrating London 2012 together. In the morning session we had a great view of the long jump by Jessica Ennis in the heptathlon and blade runner Oscar Pistorius qualifying for the next round of the 400 metres as well as Usain Bolt in the 100 metre heats.
Every time a British athlete came on to the track the crowd roared.
But the evening session was the icing on the cake watching Team GB win three Gold Medals on the track with Jessica Ennis, Greg Rutherford and Mo Farah all bringing home gold for the home nation. Even though I was waving my Union Jack surrounded by Dutch supporters they too could not help but be caught up in the euphoria of Team GB victories and the whole stadium stood up as the athletes won gold.
The sound was tremendous, the volume of which I have never experienced before applauding the tremendous efforts of the athletes.
Next day we watched the beginning stages of the women’s marathon outside Buckingham Palace in the pouring rain. British women athletes are doing particularly well in London 2012 and it’s a breakthrough for women’s rights as for the first time each country participating is represented by both sexes. Then it was off to the famous Holland Heineken House at Alexandra Palace to get a taste of ‘Orange Fever’.
This is the centre for Dutch competitors and supporters to celebrate the games – everything in orange even the flowers outside in the gardens and visitors are greeted by a 12 metre high photo of Marianne Vos who won the first Gold for the Netherlands. As a Brit living for more than 20 years in the Netherlands and with a Dutch husband, I do support my adoptive country but when it comes down to sports I am still a true Brit and the Olympics have definitely brought out my patriotic feelings.
My experience of the games has been incredible. I witnessed a range of emotions, tears and gasps from competitors and supporters alike , but it was so very special to hear ‘God Save the Queen’ sung like never before. It makes me feel proud to be British in this great Olympic year.