Live in London: Day 9 - Synchro competition begins and Mr.Bolt strikes Gold!
blog by Victoria Mintz • August 07, 2012 @ 2:16pm
I woke up super early this morning to head into London for the first day of the synchro duet technical routine preliminaries competition (ed. note—Victoria is a competitive synchronized swimmer at Canisius College). Each duet is performed by two swimmers and involves required technical elements, which must be performed in series. Teams choose their own music and choreography but cannot perform elements out of order.
After my 8 a.m. wake-up, our family—as well as the Randalls (daughter Jenna is competing in the duet event)—got ready for the big day ahead of us, heading to the train station and catching the 9:30 a.m. train into London in order to meet family and friends at the Olympic park by noon. The train was extremely packed, as everyone was spending their Sunday either in Olympic Park or watching the women’s marathon taking place right outside the Buckingham Palace in the city of London. Thousands of people were trying to catch that event because it’s open to the public and therefore, does not require any ticket or entry fee.
However, as we headed to Stratford where the Olympic Park is located, the traffic continued to build as more and more people started to crowd the streets. It was absolutely crazy once we finally arrived at Stratford but thankfully we were able to escape into the official British swimming lounge at the Holiday Inn, located right outside the Olympic Park gates. My family and I were extremely lucky to be granted access into the lounge because only friends and family of British athletes are allowed to enter, and the Randall family were extremely gracious and gave my family passes for the week!
We spent the rest of the morning hanging out in the lounge, drinking, eating and chatting with other members of the British swim team, which was extremely cool! Just like that of the Canada House we visited last week, this was one of the many lounges that the Great Britain squad has and is actually specifically for the aquatic sports.
At 2 p.m., our synchro “family” headed into the Olympic Park to go watch the event. The weather was absolutely terrible—pouring rain as we stood in line for security both into the park and then to get into the aquatic center. The amount of people in the park was unreal—a lot more than last week when we came for the swimming event. I’m guessing this was because it was the weekend, and therefore more people had bought tickets and were attending different events.
Finally we had entered the building! Sitting in better seats than we were at the swimming event, my sister and I sat in section A whereas my other sister and mother sat in section B, directly across from us on the other side of the venue. They were prime seats, right in the middle of the pool and slightly elevated, which gave us a great view of the swimmers in competition. As we waited for the start, the stadium played different inspirational Olympic videos, which featured a variety of athletes competing in the Games. It was really entertaining and made you so pumped that I wanted to jump in the water myself and compete!
The competition finally began, opening with the United States—the first of 25 duos entered in the competition. It was an amazing day, full of energy and excitement as many of the twosomes blew the judges away and earned extremely high marks. The duet technical program is one of the hardest events because you have to perform a certain amount of elements in a specific order, synchronized with your partner. You are judged based on your technical ability; height, extension, sharpness and execution.
The top contenders in the duet event are Russia, Spain, China, Canada and Japan, who all finished with a score of 94 or above out of 100—which is amazing. Russia finished in first with a score of 98.00, while Spain and China finished just below that with 96.1 and 96.0, followed by Canada with 94.5 and Japan just below that. The Great Britain duet (Jenna and Olivia) ended up having an amazing swim and finished with a score of 88. That put them in 9th place, beating the USA by one point (sorry, guys!) It was so great to see Jenna and Olivia compete in such a pristine competition such as this, and to see them perform so well as well.
Once the competition concluded, the Randalls and I headed back to the British swimming lounge, where we reunited with everyone and chatted about the event. It was awesome to meet Jenna’s friends and family and to see how much pride and support she has behind her for these Games. It was also incredible to be in such close proximity to the park and to actually be able to hear the cheering you see on TV right outside your window. After relaxing and watching more Olympic events in the lounge, we headed out onto the streets to find a restaurant for dinner. Traveling in a large party of 12, it was difficult to find a restaurant especially because of the insane amount of people at the park for the athletics event going on that night. However, we finally found a restaurant and were able to enjoy the rest of the final events on TV while eating amazing Thai food with family and friends!
One of the highlights of the night was watching the men’s 100-meter final event on television while hundreds of people huddled behind us outside of the restaurant to catch the race, as well. The restaurant literally went silent as everyone waited patiently for the race to start. Everyone went wild when Usain Bolt of Jamaica crushed the competition and earned gold for his country. I have never witnessed such excitement, as everyone screamed and cheered for the amazing runner—we even heard the cheers of the thousands from the athletics stadium located just behind us. It was INSANE! One of the most amazing experiences ever.
The traffic to exit the park was the worst I’ve ever seen it. Since the athletics events had just ended, everyone was leaving the stadium/park and heading back to the subway to go home. There was literally no space on the subway and all of us were separated onto different trains. I ended up having a great ride, however, meeting and chatting different couples that had just watched the athletics event. Most of them had paid over 495 pounds EACH for their ticket (equivalent to $792 each) and sat right near the track, which allowed them to high-five many of the athletes once they finished their race. One of the best stories I heard was from an older couple that had only purchased their tickets earlier that afternoon and ended up sitting behind Paul McCartney! Another man I met told me that he had been able to high-five Mr.Bolt himself after his gold medal race, and was then randomly selected to be interviewed on BBC.
Bolt high-fiving fans!
Overall it was a great day, great night and a fantastic start to the duet synchro competition. Next on my schedule—the canoeing sprint event Tuesday morning, followed by the duet finals event later that afternoon. Can’t wait—till then, cheers!
Fun Fact:The amount of material that had to be excavated to build the aquatics centre was the equivalent of 160,000 tons of soil!
Victoria Mintz is a Canadian student at Canisius College in Buffalo and is serving as Buffalo.com’s eyes and ears at the Olympic Games in London.