Goodbye to an Olympic summer

Belatedly – since I’m still wading through my backlog – I’m reminded of London’s Olympic summer.

Kirst and I had the good fortune of seeing the beach volleyball during the main Olympics, but since that event had been held at Horseguards Parade we hadn’t seen the Olympic Park itself.

That all changed a few weeks later, when we landed a pair of tickets to the Paralympics. Having seen so much of the iconic stadium on TV, it was great to finally roll out of the Tube and see it for ourselves.

It was also a chance to check out Anish Kapoor’s Orbit – a structure that managed to grow on me quite a bit as the summer wore on.

Given the state of our summer this year, we were also fortunate to turn up on a rare sultry day. The hazy sunset gave a pretty good idea of the amount of air traffic heading over.

After a wander round the grounds, it was time to head into the stadium itself. It didn’t disappoint. Not usually being a huge sports fan, the atmosphere was far more moving that I’d braced myself for. Perhaps that was because we were seeing the Paralympics as the bravery some of the participants show in getting to their level of fitness is quite humbling to see. The one-legged high jump, where the winners were clearing heights of 1.80m or so on just one leg, particularly lingers in my memory. Unfortunately it was at the other end of the stadium, but we still had plenty of events fall within range of my lens.

The level of disability seemed to vary a fair bit between athletes – even within the same event. The runner furthest from the camera in this shot was the only competitor in his heat to run with a guide, coming in two laps behind his better-sighted opponents. But the roar of appreciation that followed him round the stadium was immense, and we brought the roof down when he made it to the home stretch.

With so many events to see – in addition to the variety of a usual athletics meet, there are also separate events for different levels of physical ability – there was plenty to keep an eye on. For events at the other end of the stadium, the best view was on the screen – you can see the heat haze from the Olympic flame where the screen looks pixelated.

As the night wore on, that sunset turned into a beautifully clear evening, with the moon hanging low over the stadium. Those recognisable lights surrounding the roof also took on a rather festive glow once I fiddled with the focus a little.

Eventually – and with a few more medals added to Team GB’s tally – it was all over. Time to head home and leave the Olympic Park behind us; a scene most Londoners will remember very fondly indeed, and which already seems so very long ago.

 

 

 

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