It’s official, I have seen the Olympics. Well, one bit of them, at least. Yesterday I headed over to the Excel Centre:
We arrived for the evening session and breezed through security. No queues, cheerful security people and very polite bemusement at my bag of wool. Since knitting needles were technically not allowed (possible offensive weapon, and you only have to read a newspaper to see all those instances of knitters on the rampage, flinging DPNs into unsuspecting members of the public – oh, wait…) I decided not to chance it. Anecdotally, knitters don’t seem to have had many problems taking in circulars, chunky or wooden needles, but I think it probably depends on the venue and which security guard you get. I had decided to get around this problem by taking a chunky 8mm, plastic crochet hook. Of course, this necessitated having something to crochet, so I hastily learnt how to make a ‘granny stripe’ the night before and cast on a scarf version of this. It’s worryingly addictive, and so far a promising stash-buster; I’ve cast on a second in sock yarn already.
Anyway, back to the sport. The Excel Centre has an uncanny resemblance to an aircraft hanger; enormous and industrial looking. There were several events going on, but we were booked in for the fencing, namely the men’s épée final and the women’s sabre final. If you’re not up to speed on the finer points of swordplay and the differences between the weapons, there’s some info here. As I was there with my boyfriend, I had my very own commentator, since he’s an épée fencer.
In an effort to make the fencing more television-friendly and easier to follow, they’ve introduced some cool lighting. With the audience in semi-darkness the piste (that’s the area the fencers fight on) is brightly lit and surrounded by coloured strip lights, one side green, the other red. Every time a fencer scores a hit, their side lights up. Unfortunately I only had my camera phone with me and what you can’t see on TV is that the audience aren’t really in the dark at all, but have huge blue floodlights shining on them. As a result my photos are truly terrible, but this gives you an idea of what it looked like:
(That’s from at the end, when the lights came up in all the Olympic colours). Professional photos, like this one, are rather better at capturing what many have referred to as the ‘Tron’ effect. Very cool. Inbetween fights, I managed to do a little crochet:
There was a brilliant atmosphere, and I don’t think I have ever seen a happier man than when Ruben Limardo Gascon won the men’s épée – Venezuela’s first gold medal since 1968.
I’ll be telling you a bit more about it on the next episode of the podcast, for which I’m hoping to rope in the boyfriend for some expert info, but that will have to wait a few days as we have several guests staying from overseas. Hope you’re all enjoying the Games – any highlights for you so far?