“I was there”
Three words that means so much for so many people. London 2012 is really an event for the spectators as much as it is an event for all the athletes who fight for medals and glory. This was my first Olympics and I am happy I had the chance to see the Olympic Park as well as all the arenas and venues. I had tickets to the basketball games but I did also enjoy just being in the Olympic Park among spectators and fans from all over the world. People united in the beauty of sports.
Being at home watching the Olympics on your tv, computer and Smartphone give you a tremendous chance to follow “everything”. In Sweden our national broadcaster SVT gives everyone a possibility to follow almost all the events on three channels on TV and also additional Play-channels on the Internet portal. When I was in London BBC had about 20 different channels covering everything. Combine all this TV/Video with the Olympic Apps and you got it all.
But for me being in the eye of the hurricane made me feel that I was in a midst of everything, but with very little information. If you are not connected with Wi-Fi and checking the results online you have no clue whatsoever what is happening for example in the Aquatic center, the Copper Box or the Riverside Arena. You may hear the screaming or cheering but you don’t know if someone scored or if a world record was set. The exception in the Olympic Park is the big screen and the “Park Live” where people gather to watch mainly the events and athletes of Great Britain (GB). During the time I was in the Olympic Park waiting for my games the broadcasts was mainly from the Velodrome Arena where GB was in a league of their own breaking world records and collecting gold medals. The GB-fans were of course very happy and proud.
I was in the Olympic Park for three days and watched eight basketball games, four women’s games and four men’s games. The atmosphere in the basketball arena was amazing. Sold out and 12 000 spectators at most games, I want to write all games, but I guess a few people with tickets only went to see one of the two games each ticket package contained and some seats were reserved for the competing athletes. As I understood a lot of people watched basketball for the first time in their lives and the videos before each game on the big screens explained the game, how you play it and the rules in a basic and simple way. This was excellent.
During the games the “crowd entertainers” did a great job making the crowd cheer for the teams in a positive way. Even if most people weren’t fans of a specific team they cheered and enjoyed the games with all the intensity and excitement each game offered. In the time-outs and the breaks between quarters the crowd sang along to famous songs of Oasis, Robbie Williams and the Beatles, did the wave around the Arena or just enjoyed the different shows or competitions on the floor.
But maybe I should return to the games. My overall feeling was that it was high level basketball being played with a lot of honor at stake. Different styles of basketball meet each other in a way you don’t see in a European Championship for example. The Olympic basketball tournament is world basketball right now, the summer of 2012, today. The game of basketball is under continuous development (more than any other team sport in my opinion) and the previous Olympics basketball looked different than today’s basketball and in Rio 2016 it will look different again.
There are five things during the games I had a chance to attend to that stuck to me and I will share them below:
- Elisabeth Cambage, Australia, made the first slam dunk in an Olympic Women’s Basketball game. She caught the ball on the Free-throw line and instead of making a layup she made a one hand dunk! I sat behind the Australian bench in exactly the line of the basket and the sight of her going up dunking the ball will be a memory I will never forget.
- USA Men’s team broke the record of most points scored in an Olympic Basketball game when they scored 156 points, against Nigeria. Every time a shot was taken everyone felt “this one is going in” and there was a special energy in the Arena.
- The atmosphere in the Basketball Arena when Great Britain put big pressure on European Champions Spain. The home team was getting closer and closer and the crowd was crazy. Spain got away with a one-point win and they should be more than happy for that.
- France Women’s player Celine Dumerc made two game winning 3-pointers against Great Britain. The first one was when France was down in the end of regulation and Celine Dumerc’s 3-pointer took the game to overtime. In the overtime she made the same shot again from the same spot with 0,2 seconds to go. Amazing!!!
- Russia Men’s team was down with 22-2 against Spain and they were totally swapped off the floor. But they fought back and minute-by-minute they got closer and finally won the game after a game winning dunk by Mozgov. The Russian team put a face on the message of “never give up”.
I am really happy to say it – I was there.