Priya Hunt, lives and works in London. An avid foodie, she is very intersted in cooking and has written various articles and a cookbook. She’s also an author of a children’s series “The Magic Sapphire”. Priya shares with us her experience at the London Olympics 2012 (July 27th to August 12th 2012).
(Written during the Olympic season)
I am not a sports fan. In fact, much to the horror of most of my countrymen (and women), I will confess that I don’t even watch cricket! But even for a self-confessed sports non-addict (coining a new phrase), it is very hard to not be infected by the Olympics fever in London.
I get most of the medal updates from my Facebook page – it seems that every day, one or the other of my friends have been to watch a game and I get their live commentary status updates. The tubes and trains are full of excited tourists wearing their country’s colours and the stations full of uniformed volunteers trying to steer the crowd towards one stadium or the other. There are posters everywhere – streets, buildings, stations and even people seem to be advertising the games. If you switch on the television, it is very hard not to get drawn into the discussions of the events that are happening on the day.
So – there’s no escape. I decided that as I couldn’t beat this mania, I will join in. My husband was only too happy when I suggested that we apply for tickets to watch some live action. After all, it’s very unlikely that the games will come to the city where I live ever again, in my lifetime. Last week, we went to see the Volleyball heats – interesting but not enough to get me going. This week, we went to see the women’s football finals (USA vs. Japan) at Wembley Stadium – now that was something! Football is a fun game to watch – it is relatively short, simple and easy to follow and the players’ antics are always amusing. When we got off the tube station to walk towards the stadium, I felt that I was a little fish in a sea of humanity. The Americans were easily identifiable through the flags they either carried or painted on their faces but the Japanese really took sports dressing up to another level. I have never seen so many people dressed up as Japanese Samurai outside a movie set! There was even a man dressed up as a sword (don’t ask!).
The stadium is gigantic and can hold up to 85000 people – and we had a record audience that day of 80203! I braced myself for a loud, noisy crowd but it was all very civilised, co-ordinated and enjoyable. While we waited for the games to start, we played with gigantic footballs, tossing them between different sections of the audience, passed an Olympic flag over our heads, did the Mexican wave and tapped our feet in unison – what a well behaved crowd! I loved the Japanese anthem – the music is haunting. And then the games started! It was very interesting – the teams had different skills and both played different tactics. The Japanese team seemed to always try and run the ball into the goal where as the Americans were more aggressive and did some impressive kicks. I was expecting most of the crowd to chant “U.S.A” (as they did at the volleyball game) but it was actually a well co-ordinated “Nippon” chant that surrounded us.
The Americans certainly had the advantage – they were playing really well as a team and managed to get a goal in quite early on. The Japanese had a few near-misses (including one where they nearly got the ball into their own goal). The last half an hour was incredibly exciting – but the Americans did manage to get another goal. By this time, I had decided to support the under-dogs though I had come into the games with a perfectly neutral stance. The Japanese finally managed to get a goal in – not without a bit of drama. The crowd was getting more and more animated and it was impossible not to get involved. While the ladies from Japan tried their best, they couldn’t even the score.
It was heart-warming to see the Americans rejoice their win but my heart really went out to the emotional Japanese footballers. But hey – it was a great achievement for both teams. The medal ceremony was well planned and executed and the two teams were joined by the Canadians who took the bronze. It is not often that you can say that you’ve seen a game played by Olympic gold and silver medallists and I am delighted that I can claim I have. I can’t say that I am now an avid sports fan – but I can say hand on heart that these will be memories that I will cherish all through my life.
Learn more about Priya Hunt.