I started planning this voyage across the pond way back in February 2011. I wanted to attend these Games for one sport: tennis. You may or may not recall, I wrote for this blog regarding tennis’ accomplishments of creating equal pay for equal play. Well, the tennis portion of the London games was held at the Mecca of the sport: Wimbledon.
Now, I visited Wimbledon in December 2008, and walked on Court No. 1 and sat in the booth where BBC presenter Sue Barker interviews players. But I’ve never watched live tennis on the grass courts of the All England Lawn Tennis Club. So I put in my ballot through the U.S. Olympic Committee and asked for tickets to see tennis, men’s basketball (I’m a die-hard Duke fan. Coach K was the head of Team USA Basketball), beach volleyball, swimming, water polo, and cycling. I received tickets for all of those events, except for cycling. I had two days of tennis at AELTC, a day at water polo and an evening for swimming, beach volleyball, and men’s basketball each.
My first two events were tennis and they did not disappoint. I will not bore you with all the stroke-by-stroke detail, but it was an awesome experience. To be able to watch future gold medallists (yes, I’m using the British spelling) Serena Williams and Andy Murray play was simply perfect. The crowd, obviously, was much more “pedestrian” than the usual Wimbledon crowds, but again, London 2012 was an event for everyone. These spectators created an atmosphere that you would only see in maybe college basketball or during a World Series game 7. Every time Murray won a point, or was break point down, the crowd cheered him on with “Team GB” or “Andy…clap, clap, clap”. It was fun getting to watch how a crowd truly can propel an athlete to victory.
I witnessed this throughout the games that I attended, be it live or by watching at Hyde Park, where London 2012 set up 6 or 7 big screens to view the action, free of charge. I encountered the most American spectators at men’s basketball, which was no surprise to me. Our NBA’s finest players were on display with college basketball’s biggest-winning coach on the sideline, and Team USA did not disappoint. At each game, the players seemed like they were learning more and more from each other and from Coach K, until their hardest test came in the gold medal game, which they won 107-101 over Spain.
My next few posts will talk about the Olympic Park; the unforgettable moments that shaped these Games; and women at the 30th Olympiad. Stay tuned…
This post was written by our Olympics correspondent, Matt.