Snapshots from London: Olympics in the city

Whereas the tennis world was focused on stormy US Open, I was enjoying a few days in sunny London during the Paralympics.
Wandering round London, it was nearly impossible to avoid the Paralympics.

The Olympic Park

East London has undergone major development in the last few years to transform it into the centrepiece of London 2012.
Most Olympic and Paralympic events took place at the ground-breaking 2.5 square km Olympic Park in Stratford. The most distinctive venues in the Olympic Park are the Olympic Stadium, that played host to the Olympic and the Paralympic Athletics as well as all the opening and closing ceremonies, Zaha Hadid’s Aquatics Centre and the Velodrome, nicknamed the Pringle.

The Olympic Stadium and the Orbit

The Olympic Aquatics Centre

The Orbit and the Olympic Stadium

The Olympic Park from Tennis Buzz on Vimeo.

The Olympic Park has now closed its doors and will remain shut for at least a year while venues are dismantled.
While the fate of the Olympic Stadium remains uncertain, three of the eight sports venues (the temporary basketball, water polo and Riverbank arenas) will disappear.
As for the four remaining venues:
– Zaha Hadid’s Aquatics Centre will shed its wings, reducing the seating capacity from 17500 to 2500. It will host training and competitions and will be open to the public.
– the Velodrome will be the heart of the new Lee Valley Velopark, including the Olympic BMX track and new bike trails, café and hire and workshop facilities.
– the Copper Box, the multi-use arena, will host a myriad of sports as well as concerts and corporate events upon reopening, with a gym, exercise studio and café.
Eton Manor, that hosted the Wheelchair tennis competition will become a permanent home for the Lee Valley Hockey Centre and the Lee Valley Tennis Centre, and is scheduled to host the European Hockey Championships in 2015.

The site will reopen as the Queen Elizabeth II Olympic Park in 2014.

The Games Makers

The purple Games Makers uniforms have become synonymous with the London 2012 Games: thousands of volunteers took to the streets to inform and guide the athletes, officials and fans:

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London 2012 Games Makers


Up to 70,000 Games Makers took on a wide variety of roles across the venues: from transporting athletes, to helping out behind the scenes in the Media Centre, to entertaining the crowd like that guy during the wheelchair tennis competition:

Games Maker

Thanks guy from Thailand, thanks volunteer guy and thanks ABBA:

London 2012 Paralympics from Tennis Buzz on Vimeo.

The Agitos

The Paralympic symbol Agitos replaced the Olympic rings

on Tower Bridge:

Tower Bridge

on the National Gallery:

Agitos, National Gallery

and in the streets:

The Agitos

Mandeville and Wenlock

A collection of 83 sculptures of Wenlock (the Olympic mascot) and Mandeville (the Paralympic mascot) were planted at sites around London as part of a new ‘discovery’ trail to promote the Games.
Each outfit represents a different element of the capital’s culture.

Union Jack Mandeville:

Union Jack Mandeville

Big Ben Wenlock:

Big Ben Wenlock

Those mascots are kinda ugly, but the kids love them and that’s what counts, right?

More pics of the two mascots here.

Adverts

Everywhere….

GSK ad featuring Philips Idowu

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Coca Cola Celebrate Britain’s beat:

Coca Cola ad

adidas Take the Gold:

adidas Take the gold ad

Usain Bolt Visa ad:

Usain Bolt Visa ad

Newspapers

Stamps and Golden Post boxes

Royal Mail has printed stamps to commemorate every Team GB and Paralympics GB gold medal, and issued them within 24 hours of the win.

Gold Medal Winner Stamps

Royal Mail has also painted some of its iconic red post boxes gold to celebrate every Team GB and Paralympics GB gold medal win. Two have been painted gold in honor of Murray‘s win at the Olympics: one in Andy’s home town of Dunblane in Scotland and one in Wimbledon.

TV

Meet theSuperhumans

Channel 4 aired 400 hours of Paralympic coverage in the UK, while Australia’s ABC screened more than 100 hours. In the US, NBC was largely criticized for his coverage for failing to show any live TV coverage of the Paralympics. NBC has devoted just 4 hours to the Paralympics – four 60-minute highlights programmes – across the 11 days of action.

Were the Paralympics broadcast in your country?

Potters Fields Big Screen

A great location to watch Channel 4 Paralympics coverage on a big screen, with Tower Bridge as a backdrop:

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BT London Live, Trafalgar Square

Food, drink and live Paralympics coverage from Channel 4 televised on a 60 metre square screen daily. Visitors were able to try out a range of Paralympic sports including Sitting Volleyball, Wheelchair Basketball and Wheelchair Tennis on the Have-a-Go Sports Court. A live concert was also planned each evening.

BT London Live, Trafalgar Square

Museums

Even the top art establishments in town have chosen to dedicate some wall space to the Olympics:
– there’s the British Museum’s Mine to Medals exhibition which traces the story of the production of the medals for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
– the John Soane’s Museum presents Stadia: Sport and Vision in Architecture, an exploration of the origins of the world’s great sporting arenas.
– the National Portrait Gallery has BT Road To 2012, a free exhibition of athletes and those working behind the scenes to make the 2012 Games happen.
– there’s also the Designed to Win exhibition at the Design Museum
– the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Posters are on display at Tate Britain
– and of course there’s the exhibition dedicated to the Olympic Games at Wimbledon Museum

The Marathon

Paralympics Marathon

Paralympics Marathon from Tennis Buzz on Vimeo.

Our Greatest Team Parade

Up to a million people lined in the streets of London to celebrate Team GB and Paralympics GB on Monday. About 800 Olympians and Paralympians took part in the Our Greatest Team Parade.
The only high-profile absentees were Andy Murray (but he had a good excuse…) and Bradley Wiggins who was taking part in the cycling Tour of Britain.

Those were only a few examples of Olympics/Paralympics in the city.

Goodbye London:

Paralympics Closing Ceremony from Tennis Buzz on Vimeo.

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