Olympic Journey, Part II

Our second day at the Olympics started with a new experience for Elena: a trip on the London subway, better known as the Underground or the tube. By the end of our trip she and Roman would be pros at getting around on the tube–Roman spent most of that time in his stroller looking up at the people around him, flirting with girls and eliciting comments like “that’s the cutest baby I’ve ever seen.”

Most of the triathlon took place in and around Hyde Park, so we disembarked from our train at Hyde Park corner just when the race was scheduled to start. We didn’t have much hope of finding a good viewing spot for the swim, so Jenny and the kids occupied a prime location along the bike route while I walked around to see if there was any way I could get a view of the first leg of the race. Soon enough I found myself toward the back of a crowd cheering on the swimmers as they made their last big turn. Once the swimmers were out of sight, I traced my steps back to Jenny and the kids. They had found an amazing spot right along the fence line at a slight bend at the top of a hill, so we were able to see the riders for a long time as they approached and passed us. The crowds weren’t too heavy, so there was even some nearby empty space where Elena could dance and play during the breaks in the action. Also, a member of the Swedish team support staff (an assistant coach or something similar) was right next to us, talking on her walkie-talkie and taking split times between groups on the road. Some other spectators asked her if her athletes had a chance, and she seemed pretty confident–it turned out that she was right!

The racers did seven loops of a 3.8 mile circuit on their bikes, but we only watched the first five times before we abandoned our position to try our luck finding a spot to watch the final leg of the race, the ten kilometer run. We couldn’t find anywhere with a good view–there were just too many people jammed in. I did find one spot where, by holding my camera up high I was able to shoot some video of the runners going by. In the end we joined the rest of the overflow crowd on a large lawn with a jumbo-tron where we watched the last portion of the race. It was thrilling: a small group composed of representatives from Sweden, Switzerland, Australia, Great Britain, and the USA relentlessly pushed and pulled each other towards the finish line, until only the Swedish and Swiss women had the speed to go on, stride for stride into a fantastic photo finish. The Swiss athlete was awarded the gold after the evidence was examined.

Afterwards, we met up with Amy and Heather to see some of the famous sights of London. We strolled past the fancy car dealerships and hotels on Park Lane and ate lunch in Green park next to Buckingham palace while watching crowds start to gather for the Race Walk event that would take place later that afternoon. We took pictures of Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, and the Houses of Parliament before moving on to marvel at the grandness of Trafalgar Square and shop for souvenirs in Leicester Square. By then it was dinner time, so we wandered through the Covent Garden shopping district until we found a curry house in between the Royal Ballet School and Royal Opera House. It had been a long day for all of us, but especially Elena and Roman so dinner was understandably stressful, but it was nice to be able to hop back on the tube and have a reasonably quick and easy trip back to our hotel.


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