Greetings from Greenwich! I just set the time zone on my lap top and was tickled that for the first time ever I got to select ‘Greenwich Mean Time’.
Every major championship I’ve been to has had a theme that became a common thread throughout my experience, and that inevitably seeped into my blogs. The WEG in Aachen, for example, was all about the ubiquitous Warsteiner beer that was available all over the venue; Rio’s theme was the thumbs up sign that Brazilians love to make as a gesture of their good will and optimism. Well, I can tell you that the theme of the London Olympics has already presented itself to me – in banners, volunteers’ uniforms, even on the lanyard that hangs around my neck with my accreditation. These are the Purple Games. And why not? Purple is the colour of royalty, after all. If there were ever an Olympics where the Royal Family is front and centre, this is the one. Royal hyperbole rules the tabloids already, with stories of Zara Phillips‘ horse High Kingdom barely passing the jog (he was naughty on the first pass so they made him go again – nothing more, nothing less) and of her dear Daddy’s affair with ‘junior staffer’ Lauren Hough. Junior staffer? That’s some kick ass fact checking there, folks. Or is it more titillating to contemplate Mark Phillips fooling around with an office assistant at USEF than with a US Show Jumping Team rider?
So far, so swimmingly for me here in London. I loved my virgin flight on Virgin Airlines. With all the chirpy English accents flowing out of smiling flight attendants’ mouths I felt like I was already here as soon as I had boarded the plane. Astonishingly, there were quite a few empty seats on that flight. Even more astonishingly, my passage through Heathrow, which in the past has been a source of great aggravation and claustrophobia, was nothing short of a breeze. A certain US presidential candidate commented the other day while visiting 10 Downing St. that he was disturbed by what he saw in London as the city prepared to welcome the world, but I don’t agree, not one little bit. I have been here just over 24 hours and absolutely everything – from public transport to finding things to the fabulousness of the equestrian venue – has been outstanding. World class. Olympic class, even.
The Brits are famous for all kinds of things – bangers and mash and Monty Python to name just two personal faves – but I would like to add a new distinction to the list: signage. If I ever get lost here it will be entirely my fault because the signage for Olympic this and Olympic that is pretty much impossible to miss. And being purple, it does draw the eye. What also draws the eye is the jaw dropping beauty of the equestrian venue. I’ll be getting a bit fit over the next two weeks, since the press tribune is in the nose bleed zone at the top of a hundred or so stairs – but it’s worth the climb for the view over the city. Greenwich is a high point of land, so the panorama is simply stunning.
And just get a load of the reception area that greets the media as we enter the media centre at Greenwich:
The media centre is in a wing of the National Maritime Museum and is hands down the most fantastic media work area I’ve ever parked my lap top.
I’m headed out to walk the cross country course shortly, but before I go here is a brief recap of today’s competition in the Eventing Dressage. Hawley wears the gold star for Canada, with a brilliant ride on Ginny. She currently sits 11th with 48.7 penalties. Already living up to medal expectations are the Germans, who are first and second, and the Aussies, who like the Canadians have had three go already, all of whom are in the top eight. My favourite ride of the day was Andrew Hoy on the nine year old Rutherglen. He’s currently fourth, and I must confess I’m a bit puzzled by that result. Ingrid Klimke went just a couple of horses after him, so I feel like I can fairly compare the rides. To me Andrew’s test was as close to watching ‘real’ dressage as eventing dressage gets. Ingrid’s spot at the top of the leaderboard is confirmation that you can take an ordinary-moving horse and achieve extraordinary results – I did think Andrew may have been a bit robbed. But just a bit.
Oh, before I forget, here is a link to the results, another shining example of LOCOG’s delivery of instant gratification. The smooth, easily navigated access to Olympic info helps to dull the pain caused by the COC’s continued insistence that I don’t exist. A kind soul who IS on their media list has been forwarding me the COC’s press releases so that I don’t miss out. A missive today from Dimitri Soudas (who has an interesting Wikipedia entry, incidentally) was titled Go Canada! Go! The final line urged recipients to “call or email me anytime as I’m at your service.” Sadly, it seems Dimitri is not at mine. On the other hand, do I really want to be on his email list? Here is a little tidbit he sent out today in a one line message with the subject line ‘Fun facts’:
“Canadian Olympian gave her Majesty the Queen of Canada E2 a pin as she was getting in her car after the Opening Ceremony.”
The subject line would more accurately have read: ‘fun, incomplete and questionably respectful fact’. Which Canadian Olympian? Don’t you mean Her Majesty, as opposed to her Majesty? And E2? She’s not a boat, you know.
On the topic of the opening ceremonies, I’ll be blogging about my impressions of the Mr. Bean Olympic Opening on Low-Down tomorrow. Fingers crossed, that blog will be in the exciting new format I promised a couple of days ago.