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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!).