London park is pure gold for visitors

The Olympic Park at the London Games is always a teeming mass of humanity, no matter how bad the notorious changeable English weather. 

Chirpy guides, fans in national colours, athletes and officials in regulation gear all inter-mingle around the Olympic Park in Stratford, east London. It covers 2.5 square kilometres – or 350 football pitches – and is divided into four different zones: Orbit Circus, Britannia Row, World Square and The Street Market. 

Anyone who has the time, energy and deep enough pockets for tickets can see the Orbit, NBA stars at the basketball arena, swimming at the Aquatics Centre, water polo, cycling at the Velodrome, mountain biking at the BMX Track and, of course, track and field at the magnificent Olympic Stadium. 

There is also a variety of cuisine at the Copper Box, live entertainment at the Riverbank Arena and picnic areas if the weather permits. Plus the expansive Westfield shopping mall right beside satisfies any retail therapy demands. 

Any chance of the five Cayman Islands athletes getting bored if they go outside their village and want to stay close by is nil. There is so much to appreciate and do. 

It seems that all the foreboding about the London Olympics causing massive traffic jams, transport chaos and annoying difficulties for the general public was over-estimated. The indigenous population has largely stayed away, so everything is more accessible than expected. 

Roger and Isatou Smith are two Cayman Islands residents at the London Olympics to support the swimming Fraser brothers, Shaune and Brett, along with track athletes Cydonie Mothersill, Ronald Forbes and Kemar Hyman. 

People from all over the world ignored the warnings of security scares, ticket scarcity and extortionate prices. Even if Londoners are staying away, Brits from the provinces are nevertheless descending in their hordes. 

Joyce and Lorraine, two elderly ladies in their seventies, are a prime example. They came down from Sheffield, 200 miles north, just to enjoy the Olympic Park. They didn’t have tickets but were happy just to soak up the atmosphere and possibly star-gaze. 

“Jessica Ennis lives near us and we always see her,” Joyce said. “We hope she can win the hepthalon. Expectations are so high but she seems able to soak up the pressure.” 

The Sutton family from Solihull, near Birmingham, England’s second city, 120 miles north of London, were visiting the Olympic Park for the first time. Between the three adults and three kids they were having a blast. 

Julie Sutton said: “We’ve got tickets for the basketball and we’re really excited. The Olympic Park is fabulous. 

“We’re really impressed with how fantastically it has been organised. The tube and everything has been great, we’re all having a lovely day. 

“Getting tickets was a nightmare though. These were the last choice we made. Everything we tried to get tickets for we just couldn’t, but we’re here and enjoying it. And the GB team is playing in the basketball so we’ll be cheering them on. 

“When it’s all over we might come back and go up the Orbit.” 

Their budget also extended to souvenirs. Not cheap. They bought flags, kids’ tattoos, t-shirts, ball for their absent baby and beer. 

Dad Dean said: “I think it is all fantastic. It really makes me proud to be British. 

“I don’t know too much about the Cayman Islands except that a lot of rich people live there and I think the weather’s better than it is here. But we get the Olympics, you don’t, so I 
don’t mind.” 

Waterpolo at the Lodon Olympics

Water polo is among the sports to be seen in the Olympic Park.

Womens Olympic basketball

Brazil and Australia are among the countries playing women’s basketball in London. – PHOTOS: RON SHILLINGFORD