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7:46pm on Thursday, 9th August, 2012:

Day 13


We went to the Olympics today, my wife having managed to snaffle us some tickets a month or so ago. The tickets were returns, probably on account of how the only events on show were: the 110m hurdles, discus and pole vault from the men's decathlon; the heats of the women's high jump; the men's 4x400m relay.

I took 132 photos, so will probably give a longer review tomorrow, but here's the stadium as seen from our seats:

Given that these were high-end tickets in terms of price, we didn't have all that great a view. The high jump and the pole vault were at the other end of the stadium, with the high jump further obscured by the discus netting (they lowered it for the pole vault). We had a good view of the discus throwers, but not of where their throws landed.

There were no British athletes on display for the high jump or pole vault, but the crowd was loud and supportive.

Then the 4x400m relay teams came out.

I've been in large crowds in a stadium before. I've been at Wembley when England have scored a goal in a crucial World Cup qualifier. However, nothing prepared me for the noise that greeted the British team. When the race started, all those union flags that had been sitting on people's laps suddenly came out and people screamed their support. It was absolutely incredible. It was two orders of magnitude louder than anything that had preceded it. I was absolutely staggered. It was astounding. I didn't know crowds could make that much noise. It must have been tremendous for the athletes on the track (the British ones, anyway). It was as if there was sound in the air as a tangible object you could pick up, it was so physical a presence.

Gawd knows what it was like when Jessica Ennis won the 10,000m long jump on Saturday. If it was like this on a fairly low-key day, on one with several electrifying events that British athletes could win, people would come away deaf afterwards.

It was real patriotic, tears-to-the-eyes stuff. What an unforgettable experience.

I'll certainly apply for tickets the next time the Olympics come to the UK.

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Copyright © 2012 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).