At last, a chance not to be out and about at very silly o’clock and we spend time generally relaxing and catching up with ourselves before leaving mid-afternoon for the Olympic Stadium. We seem to have worked out an even cheaper method of travelling. Ticket to Woolwich Arsenal (dearer than yesterday perhaps because it is a weekday) and then using our contactless cards, rather than the ticket machine, on the DLR. It is a learning curve all this and now we have got the hang of it we won’t be doing this again. Today our seats are high above the back straight and inevitably, we are in good time to see all the pre-event preparations. My partner in crime falls asleep whilst waiting for the event to start. Yes, he can even fall asleep sitting on very uncomfortable plastic seats, which, depending on what you are wearing, can very quickly make you feel like you have had an unfortunate accident. Take a coat to sit on folks, or maybe a cushion, if you can fit it in the smallish bag allowed. I am just wondering how to respond if someone from security comes to check to see if my companion is still alive. I have opted for explaining that he is at his devotions, when I am rescued by a visit from a friend from North Devon who is working on the electrics for the event. I therefore feel a sharp elbow to the ribs of said companion is fully justified.
Three medal ceremonies to start the evening. The one for the women’s pole vault has been won by Greece, so is an excuse for plenty of Greek dancing. Incidentally I must pay tribute to the antics of Hero the Hedgehog, the games mascot, who is very athletic and highly entertaining. I also think Iwan Thomas has done an excellent job of compering. The downside and something that has really spoiled our enjoyment, is the inability of our fellow spectators to stay in their seats. I am going to recommend that future events have a special area for members of the audience who guarantee to leave their seats no more than once during the session. Today our row have been fairly restrained, nobody got out more than once an hour but this has been made up for by those in front of us. These include a man standing up, using his phone, waving his hat, presumably to try and attract the attention of someone elsewhere in the crowd, for a full two minutes during an event. Sadly, he was just too far in front for me to remonstrate. I did feel that Karma had struck when the chips of what turned out to be the worst offenders got cold during the national anthems and the minute’s silence for a former Australian sprinter, Betty Cuthbert. Even the jumping pit rakers stand to attention for the anthems with their rakes at an angle that can only be describes as, well, rakish. In the absence of anyone British on the podium, the crowd acts like some of the winners are almost British. This seems to include anyone from Jamaica, The Netherlands or New Zealand. I must say that the medal ceremony flags are, to put it politely, a bit understated, merely a standard sized flag on a flag pole. In the absence of much wind in the stadium you can’t even see which flag is which. Surely we could have done a bit better than this?
Field finals are heralded by random trumpet fanfares but we are spared this for the track finals. We get three GB athletes into the men’s 200 metres finals: Danny Talbot, Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake and Zharnel Hughes as a fastest loser. Sophie Hitchon can only manage 7th place in the hammer but we have two women through to the semi-finals of the 400 metres hurdles, Elidih Doyle and Meghan Beasely. We are amazed that a noticeable number of spectators can spend a not inconsiderable sum on tickets only to arrive half way through the proceedings. Even if you are just there to support a particular person, why would you not arrive until after 8.00pm? Two in our row arrived at 9.00pm! The women’s triple jump final, just below us, is an exciting tussle between the Columbian Olympic champion and the Venezualan, who triumphs in the end. My new favourite volunteer job is plasticine smoother on the jumping strips. It seems that Chris is unlikely to get his own remote controlled javelin retrieving car as they cost £4500 each. We are told that they travel at 40mph, faster than Usain Bolt. Laura Muir fought hard in the 1500 metres final but was just driven in to 4th place on the back straight by Caster Semenya.
The day ends with us weaving and diving through the homeward wending crowds with the skill of distance runners attempting not to get boxed in. A relatively smooth journey home, despite leaving with the majority of spectators and having to descend from the gods first. I wonder if I will have the stamina to attend another event such as this, should Britain be fortunate enough to host one whilst I am still vaguely upright.