Farewell London

Tonight the baton will be passed by London to Rio, and the British capital will no longer be the current Olympic city. It scarcely feels like it was 4 years ago that Mrs P and I took our seats in the Olympic stadium in the revitalised east London borough chosen for the site of the games. It was a fabulous day and, though I may be biased, a fabulous four weeks of sports and entertainment. Continue reading “Farewell London”

The Olympic Dream

My favourite photo sharing site is about to launch their shiny new Commercial Licensing Marketplace. I know very little about the scheme, other than it will be a place for 500px photographers to sell their images. I know of it because I’ve been asked to allow 500px to license one of my photos. Sure. Why not. If there’s the chance of cash comin my way, I’m game. I’m surprised about their choice from amongst all my photos on the site. I declind to upload any release documents. I don’t have any. But I’m sure that the IOC are infamously tight when it comes to anything with an Olympic image on it. Or even a hint of an Olympic image. Oh well, we’ll see how it goes…

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The Closet Monarchist

I returned home yesterday to find Mrs P had draped bunting across the exterior of the house. Who’d have imagined? A closet monarchist indeed. Alternatively, she just enjoys a party, the colours and the atmosphere. There’ll be plenty of that in London when we arrive on Sunday, I’m sure. I’ve always found the word ‘bunting’ to be rather peculiar. There was boy at school called Bunting. He was exactly as you’d expect someone called Bunting to be – rather weird. An oddball. Still, it was a rather a well-to-do school, so he’s probably now Sir Bunting. Although, on second thoughts, he wasn’t terribly smart. Quite the opposite in fact. So perhaps he is Lord or Baron Bunting of Somewhere or Other. That’s how we roll here.

We’ll be leaving by bus at the crack of dawn tomorrow and shan’t return till the early hours of Tuesday morning. We have another trip which requires us to depart on Tuesday afternoon – three nights in Paris, which I’m sure will be very nice. So there may be little chance of blogging or uploading to Flickr for some while. But fear not, you can follow me on Instagram and get on the spot photo updates. Or, if you prefer your digital content on the PC rather than the smartphone, there’s my Tumblr blog, Instagary. All my Instagram photos go there at the same time, plus there’ll be a few videos too I dare say.

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Olympic Trivia

The Olympics have a long history. But let’s focus on the abbreviated version, starting from the modern games in 1896. There are pages of trivia on the web, and plenty of facts and figures to be had on Wikipedia. Here are some of my favourites, with a slightly British bias – of course.

  • Great Britain is the only country to have sent a team to every Summer and Winter Games. And Great Britain is also the only country to have won a gold medal at every Summer games, although we almost lost that record in 1996 when we managed just a single, solitary gold.
  • There are lots of disputes to be argued over as far as participation in the Summer Games is concerned. Australia, Greece, Switzerland, France and Britain all claim to have sent a team to every Olympiad. However, France did not send a team in 1904 and rather tenuously claim to be on the list due to a Frenchman competing for the US team. The Swiss boycotted the 1956 games, but their equestrian team had already competed in those events a few months before the tournament started for real. The Australians competed in a combined Aussie New Zealand team in a couple of tournaments. The British too competed in a slightly altered style having originally competed as the United Kingdom on Great Britain and Ireland. Only Greece can truly, perhaps, claim to have participated at all Summer games under a single national style.
  • In 1976 all female participants in the Summer games had to undergo gender testing. Except one. A decision was taken to take Princess Anne’s word for it.
  • In 26 Olympiads, Great Britain has won 207 golds and 715 medals in total. Only Germany (247/851), the United States (929/2296) and the Soviet Union (395/1010) have won more golds, and also more medals. We will possibly catch up and surpass the Soviet Union one day. In the distant future. But probably not before we have been overtaken by China and others.
  • Ever thought the Decathlon was a bit wimpy? Perhaps it is. Fifteen events have been ever present at all Olympiads – 100 metres, 400 metres, 800 metres, 1500 metres. Marathon, 110 metres hurdles, High jump, Long jump, Triple jump, Pole-vault, Shot put, Discus, Fencing, Individual foil, Individual sabre, 1500 metres freestyle . Methinks that a new event featuring all of these should replace the decidedly girlish decathlon.
  • Ever wondered why the marathon is 26 miles and 385 yards? It was once exactly 26 miles, after all. The answer is simple. Because Queen Alexandra said so. Really. She wanted the race in 1908 to finish below the Royal Box so that she could see the end. Rather than move the start forwards a little, they added 385 yards to the end to make it so.
  • In 2012, London will host the Summer Games for a record third time. The logo for the 2012 games is below, along with 1908 and 1948 emblems,  and was designed at a waste cost of £400,000 by Wolff Olins. Although it will be the first time that the Olympics and Paralympic games have shared the same logo.

The Olympic Torch Relay

The Olympic torch is coming to a town near you soon. Unless you don’t live in the UK or Ireland. In which case, bad luck. But it is coming to a town near me. In fact, the torch is going to be carried right past my office. There’s an Evening Celebration near the pier on Friday 13th July, providing the unlucky date doesn’t throw a spanner in the works, and then the torch is carried past my workplace the next morning. I’ll be there, with my camera.

Olympics By Numbers

I’m really looking forward to the Olympics in London. And not only because I have a pair of tickets to see some athletics at the Olympic Stadium. It’ll be great to see such a major global event hosted on my doorstep. An event that is accessible and the atmosphere of which I can experience. I’m sure it’ll be a great event, providing there are no malicious catastrophes. I suspect the fear of a terrorist attack lingers in the back of many people’s minds. The fear of terrorism is usually grossly overplayed. I think extra caution in July and August is understandable though. Pulling off an atrocity would be like winning the jackpot to the small numbers of feeble minded fools who’d be minded to do such a thing. Let’s cross our fingers.

The atmosphere is building up already. It began in earnest with the New Years fireworks display in London, which I posted a couple of weeks back. I’d like to be your guide for the next eight months on an Olympic journey from a British point of view. I’m sure there’ll be plenty of bits and pieces worth sharing, and I’m equally sure that I’ll have a few comments to add. I’ve installed a countdown clock in the sidebar, and it’s ticking. Sort of. click on the icon above it, and all my Olympics posts will be displayed.

To get things going, here’s a short video by the Guardian newspaper, giving a few facts and figures about the Olympics. Enjoy.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

080808

Back in February 2008 I asked Paola to marry me. The evening had all gone a bit wrong, and the romantic event that was supposed to be was…well, that’s another story. But the question was popped. The answer was positive. She got her ring. And the wedding planning began. We had to factor in guests coming from three different countries across two different continents. And a civil ceremony to be held in the Milwaukee Courthouse. As a result, the date chose itself.

We didn’t realise until later that the date we’d chosen was the 8th of August, 2008. A very lucky number in China, that is…080808. So lucky, that’s when they decided to have the opening ceremony for the Olympics. My heart dropped a bit when I found that out. I wanted to watch the opening ceremony. The number eight clearly wasn’t my luckt Olympic number. Such is life. There’d be other Olympics.

And of course, the next Olympics are in London, next year. I ordered a whole bunch of tickets. There was a ballot system in place, so there was no guarantee of actually getting all the tickets you order. In fact, more than half of all applicants didn’t get a single ticket. Nothing. Nada. So I was lucky to get something at all. I got two tickets out of the dozen or more that I ordered.

I’ll get to go to the Olympic Stadium to see some running and jumping. The date? The 8th of August. Turns out it is my lucky Olympic number after all. I don’t have a photo of the Olympic Stadium in London yet. I will get one eventually. Till then, here’s one of the Olympic Stadium in Mexico City, from one of the greatest, and most controversial, Olympics of them all.

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