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Olympic spirit shines
With Team GB set to achieve a record medal haul, the Games are already being heralded as an overwhelming success. The atmosphere in the Olympic Park is said to be fantastic and we are repeatedly being told that it is a great time to be British. Reporter Ben James, right, went to see what all the fuss was about.
On the tube yesterday morning something didn’t feel right. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but then it struck me – people were talking to each other.
The extent of human interaction on the capital’s transport system usually extends to an elbow in the face as someone attempts to read the newspaper. But this was different.
Lineker, Logan, Balding and co keep talking about this ‘Olympic spirit’ and no matter how sceptical you want to be, you can’t help but be swept away with it.
Walking to the park, hundreds of chirpy volunteers dressed in garish pink tops welcome you from their tennis umpire chairs.
“The sky is grey and it’s starting to rain – welcome to England and have a nice day,” one said while another announced through a megaphone: “Whatever country you are from, wear your colours with pride”.
The park itself is majestic – with Anish Kapoor’s Orbit being the main focal point.
The £19million creation resembles what can best be described as a cosmic car crash – albeit a rather spectacular one.
And whatever you think of it, at least it shows that we are not afraid to take a risk. I mean, who remembers anything about the Olympic Park in Athens?
The main stadium, which had its work cut out to match Beijing’s bird’s nest, looks fantastic with its dramatic façade turning what is a fairly ordinary building into quite a spectacular one.
But the best part of the Park is that it lives up to its name – in that it is green.
There are lines of trees, wildflower gardens and pristine lawns where visitors can stretch their legs, enjoy a picnic or try and recreate some of the moves they have just witnessed in the stadium. And surprisingly it all seems to work.
Yes there are some queues, food is expensive and there isn’t enough shelter from the English weather, but everything is surprisingly easy.
But the lasting memory I and most others will take home is that of the atmosphere.
The assortment of big screens across the site creates a melting pot of sporting passion. Visitors from across the globe, decked out in their national colours, cheer home their athletes.
Meanwhile Team GB fans are showing the sort of patriotism we haven’t seen in a long time.
It is fun, friendly and never spills over into being offensive. Those responsible for these Games should be proud of their achievements.
It has more than lived up to expectations and showcased this country to be the fantastic place we know it is.
At times like this, you can’t help but be proud to be British.
A day memories are made of
Alice Wright, her husband Patrick and their four-year-old son Stanley were in the Olympic Stadium yesterday for the morning athletics session.
The Hove family, fearing the worst with transport, left their house at 5.30am to board the train to St Pancras.
Alice, 39, said: “It was all incredibly easy, I thought it was going to be a nightmare but it wasn’t at all.
“We got the javelin train right to the heart of the Olympic Park and were in the stadium before breakfast time.”
With their session starting at 10am, the crowds soon started to pour in.
She added: “The atmosphere was fantastic. Everyone was cheering and waving flags.
“When Usain Bolt came on for his 200m heats, the noise was incredible.
“He obviously won and then started doing some of his moves for the crowd, we were really privileged to see it all.”
Patrick, 47, was equally impressed, particularly with the organisation and helpfulness of volunteers and staff.
He said: “The response from everyone involved was surprising and outstanding.”
The journey was extra-special for the Hove couple as they were with a rather excited four-year-old.
Alice said: “He has been watching the last few days and I think he was quite excited to be going to see the people on the TV.
“I think he thought he was going to be taking part and was probably a bit worried that he was going to have to do a bit of boxing or something.
“But he had a great time and I hope this will be one of his first memories.
“I’ve heard everyone talk about the Olympic spirit and now I know what they mean.
“Everyone was so smiley and friendly. In a way I wanted to be very English about it and a bit down on the event, but that was impossible.
“The whole day was so well organised and was great fun."