Thursday, July 25, 2024

Sunday Comment: YT visit the Olympics

By Michael Casey

I am old enough to remember the haunting music of the Tokyo Olympics of 1964. Ever since then, I have always wanted to go to an Olympics. Once it had dawned on me that the Harlow schools 800 metre champ would not be giving Coe and Ovett any sleepless nights, I re-calibrated my ambition to that of spectator.

On Friday, Sally Casey and I went to the Track and Field on Friday evening.

The organisation was astounding. From the very moment you step off the train at Stratford, the Gamesmakers did everything to get the seething mass of spectators to the park.

The security channels were a breeze, worked in partnership between Gamesmakers and the armed forces. All we can say is that we only saw one G4S employee all day!

Each food stall (and there was a few) had minimal queues and there was loads of space to sit and eat.

The atmosphere was of joyous celebration. Everyone there gave off the vibe that it was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

It was a joy to see the global village of fans wearing their t-shirts, hats, face-paint etc with national pride. USA, Uganda, Canada, Finland, Russia to name just a few.

You could see the flags draped over the balconies of the olympic village. Belarus spelt out their name and the German flags adorned the front of the flats.

We spent hours walking round the park. The address system kept you informed all the time. There was nothing to really see but it was just looking at the iconic architecture of the velodrome, water-polo venue and many others.

But we were there to see athletics. As someone, who has run on every continent and watched track and field from Oregon to Sydney, it was such a moment to walk up the steps and enter the amphitheatre.

The stadium as a wonder of architecture and unlike a lot of stadiums it looked like you had a good view wherever you sat. We were sat near the middle of the back straight and so got a great view of the whole event but in particular the qualifying for the Long Jump. The wall of noise was deafening as eventual winner, Greg Rutherford and Chris Tomlinson thundered down the runway.

The crowd were very appreciative as they simply clapped for whoever asked. De Silva of Brazil certainly got the crowd involved.

But if we thought that was noisy then nothing prepared us for the cacophony that carried Jessica Ennis down the home straight in the 200 metres. It was almighty but it was what has been echoed all over the country. The spirit of the audience has been overwhelming.

Even now, watching the womens marathon on TV, the runners who are now over 35 minutes behind the winners are receiving great support. we had never heard of Tina Kefala who came in at 3hr and 1 minute but she has a facebook page and it has a pic of her standing by a poster that says: “No to doping”.

As each events results go up on the scoreboard, you see that there are athletes that may have come sixth or seventh in their heat but have run a personal best or even better, beaten their national record!

Did we have any reservations. Only a few. Like at quite a few events, there appear to be a growing number who have come to eat and eat and eat and seem to spend most of their time going up and down the aisle.

The other one was the music blaring out. Did they think every audience member was a fourteen-year-old who watched MTV all day. I know that athletes are in the zone but it did not seem fair that the runners are afforded total silence at the start but the field eventers have to endure constant blaring of Run DMC etc!

The exit was as smooth as the entrance. A wonder of organisation that was a total total credit to the organisers.

Once agin, the cheery games makers kept us all on the right path as we headed home.

Home from an Olympic Games that all 60 million members of Team GB can be rightly proud of.

Next week, we will look to how Thurrock can benefit from the Olympic legacy.


  1. The coverage of the whole games has been fantastic, the organisers have done London and GB very proud, Team GB have been awesome and a joy to watch.

    I am attending the Paralympics Athletics session and am really looking forward to visisting the brilliant stadium and the Olympic Park.

    I really hope that the legacy of the games comes to fruition and the permanent structures are kept reasonably priced for local people, the main stadia needs to be maintained as a centre of excelence for UK Athletics and that the big meetings like the Diamond League etc can be hosted there rather than just another football ground.


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