WoAi’s First Event

Just about to go in to ExCel

It’s over a year since I applied for tickets for the London games and Wednesday was finally the time for the first event, table tennis at ExCel. I went along with Mrs WoAi senior, I believe her first Olympics (my second of course). It was an epic journey from west London all the way to east London, about 20 stops and one line change, standing up most of the way. Mum was fine but I was struggling!

Prized tickets

When they send you the tickets, they also send you a travel pass which allows you to use the whole London transportation system for the entire day which was a nice bonus especially if you plan to do other things before or after the event. They also print your name on the tickets which makes a nice souvenir but also if someone steals them, it’s pretty easy to prove they’re yours!

Mum in her front row seat

It was so long ago I cannot remember what choices I made when booking these tickets. We were in row 5, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that there were no rows 1-4 so we were actually in the front row! Not perfect seats though as we were facing the table length ways which meant one of the players always had their back to us, obscuring our view slightly.

WoAi waiting for the first match

This was the bronze medal match followed by the gold / silver medal match, each match lasting about an hour at most and as expected, there was a large Chinese contingent in attendance carrying Chinese flags. I was somewhat irritated during the bronze medal match which was between a Singaporean player and a Japanese. One Chinese guy behind me clearly hated Japan so much that between almost every point he shouted support for the Singaporean girl.

Ding Ning (in yellow) and Li Xiao Xia (in red)

The final, not too surprisingly, was between Ding Ning (world number one) of China, and Li Xiaoxia (world number two) also of China. I have to say it was a bit odd watching a final between two people from the same country. It meant there was no excitement in the sense you could not root for one country over another (come on China!).

The world number one was struggling, partly because the Italian referee did not like her service and she was penalised several times but due to lack of common language, she never actually spoke to the referee so I think she didn’t understand what the problem was. I believe she was not throwing the ball up high enough (at least 6 inches). This clearly disturbed her concentration and she eventually lost and stormed off in tears.

Li Xiaoxia receiving her gold medal

I wasn’t sure if she’d come back for the medals ceremony but I guess she wouldn’t have been allowed to not show up, so we got to see all 3 players again a few minutes later as proud Chinese spectators sang along to the national anthem.

Raising the flags

I have to say it wasn’t the best experience I’ve had, partly because of the annoying fella behind me as well as the lack of suspense in the final match due to both players being from the same country, but certainly worth the entry price (125 pounds).

I have higher expectations for the artistic gymnastics (Monday) and the diving (Thursday). Stay tuned (WoAi now has wifi!).

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6 Responses to WoAi’s First Event

  1. IC says:

    Wish I could be there. Nice!

  2. WoAi says:

    @IC – Thanks, well, to be honest, it’s almost as good watching on TV so everyone can enjoy it!

  3. Bittermelon says:

    I don’t know what it looked like in real life, but watching on TV I was just stunned at the skill level displayed. I mean the hand eye coordination required to play at that level is just out of this world. Too bad Ding lose her composure. It’s tough to watch her melt down on TV.

  4. WoAi says:

    @Bittermelon – Yes, some of the rallies were incredible. I looked back at some of the people in the audience who just had their mouths open in disbelief. As for Ding, I was surprised someone who is world number one in her sport seemed lacking in experience to deal with the service issue. But there you go.

  5. Simon4rings says:

    The epic battle was actually between Ding Ning and Singapore’s Feng Tian Wei in the semis. Too bad for me the Italian ref did not officiate this match

  6. WoAi says:

    @Simon4rings – Wow I didn’t know that. Anyway Feng Tian Wei did well to win bronze easily so well done.

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