Day 4: London
Quote of the day:
There's a lady who's sure all that glitters is gold
And she's buying a stairway to heaven.
When she gets there she knows, if the stores are all closed
With a word she can get what she came for.
Ooh, ooh, and she's buying a stairway to heaven.
Weather: Sunny and slight breeze, cool, perfect
Pics: Giant Russkies vs GB junior varsity (these pictures are not faked, that is GB’s biggest player lost in a Russian forest), Dinner on the deck site first night, pre-match entertainment (boys playing with soccer balls), Norwegians and Swedes rooting side-by-side (how did they get all those seats right behind the team benches?), Copper Box arena and RUN sculpture,
Grape nuts and fruit, a speed walk with KHB, and a leisurely start to the day. A perfect commute to OP: train awaiting us on the station, underground transfer easy and fast and empty seats on the tube, at OP in less than an hour.
It’s lunch time and the very first shop in the mall is M&S (Marks and Spencer) food hall. THB means the very first place we encounter, it’s as if they are directing us to go buy upscale food. THB and KHB share a half a chicken and perfect potatoes (only slightly cooked in butter, crunchy on the outside), energy drink (we need our strength), and stock up for later with cheese pretzel, flaky onion twist, sourdough pave loaf, English cheddar, pineapple, $22…a bargain!
First of two sessions of Women’s Handball, two matches each session. The host country gets an entry in every event and Great Britain (GB here) clearly has no history of team handball and thus sends out their under 21 players to match up with the Russian pros. They are outweighed by 30-40 pounds and shorter by 6-12 inches per players (it is VERY obvious when they come out for the team handshakes before the match). Take a look at the pics, it is startling. Russians go easy on them, double them up. After match, many of the locals do not stay for second game.
Game 2: France vs Spain: the dullest tie game in history, both teams pathetic and France scores a goal at very end of game to come out with a tie. Pathetic….
Dinner of leftovers, bread, cheese, fruit. Two overly sweet ice creams on a stick, $8.
First match of evening session is Brazil vs Montenegro, and it is the thugs of Tito vs the style and elegance (not to mention the charisma of the Brazilian fans), and in the end Brazil wins. As good as it gets!
Nope, it gets better, as a huge contingent of fans is in force for Norway vs Sweden. THB is happy to report (as ever) that only 75% of the players are pure blonds. Lots of red and yellow in the stands, and it is a great match, with Norway maintaining a small lead throughout and ever a hint that Sweden might catch up. The Norwegian goalie is the star of the games: she is tall, wide, athletic, not blond, and saves the day for Norway with save after save after save (in Handball, the success rate for the shooter is well over 60%), long passes setting up fast break goals. Tremendous match.
Note: THB and parental units saw Norway in Barcelona. Actually, a train ride north to see them play, and it was easily the most colorful train ride we ever took, full of Vikings, drums, cowbells, and alcohol, and their fans are non-stop rooters, starting with the pre-game warm-ups. We moved our seats from in the midst of them to sit across the high school gym to take it all in rather than have them take us in.
Another easy commute back to Wimbledon, we’re back at midnight and attempting to sleep in for another late night coming up.
· We’ve been to three arenas, and only at VB were the scoreboards functional. At Water Polo, only the goalies had a good view. At Handball, the screens showing the replays (impossible to see anyway) hid parts of the scoreboard.
· You’d think that showing highlights from other events would be of interest. Instead you get some inane “guest emcee” trying to get the crowd to do stupid tricks while a bouncing cartoon figure is displayed on the screens. Kind of what you might see at a baseball game during one between-innings entertainment…except here it goes on and on and on.
· THB and KHB agree that the restrooms at the Copper Box (Handball) seem temporary, full of plastic that appears not to be connected to the floors or walls. This is a permanent structure! Hmmmmm…Gonna take out those restrooms later and turn them into meeting rooms?
· There are in-game commentators: the PA systems are so muddy it is almost impossible to hear and the announcers appear to be non-native English speakers. At session 2 of Handball, one was an American. Still couldn’t understand him all the time.
· At Handball and Volleyball, there were obstructed seats and not sold. That may account for some of the empty seats you see on TV. Some…not all.
· Appears that many of the 20 and 30 something women are pregnant, or just gave birth, we see lots of strollers and infants. Hopefully they are locals!