Olympic diary, Saturday, 28 July.
I went to the Excel Centre near Royal Victoria Dock for the women’s fencing (foils) semifinals and finals.
I gave myself four hours to travel there and go through the very thorough security. The trains were full but not overcrowded. I had bags of time to spare but I’m not sorry I gave myself so much time. I would have hated to miss anything of the event.
I took the London Midland train to Euston; – then the Victoria and Central lines to Stratford, for the Olympic Park. With time to spare, I had an excellent Cappuccino and cake on the second floor of the Marks & Spencer store, missing the queues at the other coffee places.
I then took the DLR (Dockland Light Railway) from Stratford down to West Silvertown, for the Excel Centre. Driverless trains. I remember a driverless train and bus April Fool spoof article in one of the papers about 25 years ago. (You’re too young to remember 25 years ago, I hear you cry.)
The fencing started at 6 pm. Fantastic atmosphere. Audience mainly Italian, waving Italian flags, noisy and passionate as Italians are in support of their women fencers, who went on to secure a clean sweep of the medals. On one side of me was and English-Italian chap with his English girlfriend. On the other side was a fencing coach from Milan who explained things a bit for me.
I got a bit carried away and found myself shouting, “Viva L’Italia!”
I just loved the medal ceremony, something I was eager to experience. The excitement and emotion were intense. Everyone was standing.
I took a few lousy photos on my little camera. There were people there with SLR cameras, so I think I could have got past security with mine, although my 300 mm telephoto lens is very long.
I could really get into fencing, especially if I understood it better. Luckily, I was able to record it, with expert commentary, on my new Panasonic TV recorder. It was a red button event but the Radio Times gave the channel to record and I recorded it successfully.
On my way there in the afternoon the weather was warm. On my return in the evening it was chilly. The hot weather of earlier in the week was just a memory.
Was that our English summer, been and gone, almost in a blink of an eye?
My ticket was £95. I have no regrets spending the money.