Wednesday, 15 August 2012


7th August 2012

Olympic Stadium

There was, of course, never any possibility that “Turbo-charged Tuesday” (as the announcer was proclaiming this evening’s athletics session) could ever scale the heights of Super Saturday; the session three days earlier when Team GB had won three track & field gold medals.  That night was very much a once-in-a-lifetime occasion.

That being said, there was plenty of British talent on show this particular evening and, as it transpired, even another medal to celebrate.  But events did appear to conspire to make even the Team GB successes this evening feel slightly anti-climactic. 

Shara Proctor competing in the women’s long-jump qualifiers, probably surprised even herself with an initial leap of 6.83m, which immediately qualified her for the final.  Job completed, that was rather disappointingly, the last we saw of her as she toddled off home.  

I had hoped to see Jessica Ennis compete in the 100m hurdles but she, quite deservedly, had decided to take the rest of the week off after Super Saturday, so were left to cheer on Tiffany Porter who agonisingly missed out on a final place by a whisker.

Even Robbie Grabarz’ bronze medal in the High Jump lacked any real drama.  Robbie had sailed over the bar with his first two jumps, but stalled at 2.33m, and looked to have exited the competition.  I don’t know a whole lot about high-jump technique, but it looked to my untutored eyes as though he kept jumping fractionally too soon, then clattering the bar on his descent each time.  

Perhaps nerves got the better of the lad.  But as opponent after opponent failed, it became apparent Grabarz’ faultless attempts at heights below 2.33m had earned him a bronze alongside two others.  The gold was eventually won by the charismatic Russian Ivan Ukhov, who had to overcome a lost vest in the process. 

The biggest cheer of the evening, (Garbarz’ two successful jumps apart) was for Andrew Osagie in his 800m semi-final, where he barnstormed up the final stretch to claim second place, and a slot in Thursday’s final. 

Rather less heroic was the performance of Team GB discus thrower Lawrence Okoye, who looked woefully out of form.  Had he been able to reproduce his personal best, he would have claimed silver behind German Robert Harting.  The German’s victory celebrations were one of my personal highlights of the games: he first ripping off his shirt a la The Incredible Hulk, before rounding off his lap of honour with a remarkably agile skip over the hurdles freshly laid out for the women’s 100m final.

Once Harting had finished playing with the hurdles, the ladies were let loose on them with Australian Sally Pearson taking gold in an extremely close finish.  The Thames-wide grins on the faces of the two other medallists Americans Dawn Harper and Kellie Wells were a delight to behold – in stark contrast to the sour-faced strops seen by certain other athletes at these games, when their medal turned out not to be of their preferred colour.

The last action of the evening had the Algerian Taoufik Makhloufi strolling off with the men’s 1500m gold medal, having made a suspiciously remarkable recovery from the injury which led to him dropping out of his 800m heat the previous day.

French long-jumper Eloyse Lesueur flies through the air with the greatest of ease.

USA high-jumper Jamie Nieto distraught after his all-or-nothing failed attempt at 2.36m.

The Men's 800m Olympic Semi-final - London 2012

The Women's 200m Olympic Semi-Final - London 2012

The Men's 1500m Olympic Final - London 2012

So, an entertaining rather than unforgettable evening in the Olympic Stadium, although simply to be present at all was a privilege.

That being said, it was not a cheap evening.  Having missed out on the early allocation of sensibly-priced tickets, I had to wait to pick up one of the resale ones – which tended to be in the A category, costing a whopping £450.  

It is hard really to justify the range of ticket prices available for this session.  At most sporting events there will always be a range of ticket prices available, but generally the top prices tend to be around double the cheapest.  Here I paid 9 times more than those in the cheapest seats.  Was my experience 9 times better?  I doubt it very much. 

I had rather naively assumed that my class A priced ticket would have me seated along the home stretch somewhere – perhaps even close to the finishing line.  But no, I was not even on that side of the stadium.  

I noted that no member of Joe Public actually appeared to enjoy seating at the business end of the races – presence in this section seemingly reserved for either The Olympic Family or the assembled media.  Which made it feel a bit as if the races were being run primarily for the benefit of these exclusive groups, whilst we proles in the crowd had just been allowed in to provide atmosphere, backdrop and noise.  And to finance the whole business.

Ultimately, I suppose, one could argue that I had a choice.  That if I did not wish to pay £450 to attend this session, I need not.  No-one was forcing me to come along, after all.  But I did want to attend.  Very much.  I felt my trip to London 2012 would not be complete without at least one athletics session.  And, regretfully, the only way I could reconcile myself forking out such a huge sum, was to tell myself I was buying from a tout.  And that £450 was his going rate – take it or leave it.

I have bought tickets from touts in the past – but never before from one with a peerage.

The Olympic Stadium, London.

The Olympic Stadium, London.

The Olympic Stadium, London.

The Olympic Stadium, London

Panorama of The Olympic Stadium, London.

The Olympic Stadium, London


  1. Glad to see you made the stadium Ian. I got as far as the water polo but apart from a rather poor game at Wembley, nothing else. Would of have loved to have experienced what you did and will now have to wait for West Ham to buy the ground.....not quite the same thing !

  2. You could of course toddle along during the upcoming Paralympics.