A sports fan or not you will have been made fully aware that earlier in the year the words biggest sporting and most televised sporting event took place in Brazil who hosted the Olympic Games. Great Britain, in comparison a small island in the west of Europe had a very successful games whose athletes won an incredible amount of gold, silver and bronze medals beating many of the super nations for a country of our size. The national euphoria when these hard working athletes achieved this success is clear to see all over the media and it’s a great that in these Olympic weeks that the news is filled with success stories and colourful photographs rather than depression, disasters and violence of the modern day world we live in.
Of course as a sports fan, especially the Olympics I did stay up watching key events into the early hours of the morning and still had to get up early for work in the next day. Although shattered!! Survived the working day still full of joy from witnessing a Team GB athlete’s success.
Anyhow with the Olympics closing and planning moves ahead to Tokyo in four years’ time. Not just hosting the event but athletes still young enough to compete will organise their training now so they arrive in Tokyo at the peak of their fitness. Until then this is the period after a year’s training athletes have let their hair. You can tell this as following on social media, they seem happy to show the world the fantastic holiday locations they are at with their feet up.
The success of our athletes warrants a welcome home parade for fans to see and cheer their idols and I suppose a way of saying thank you for their years of training and hard work. Four years ago in London 2012 a parade took place from Mansion House to Trafalgar Square when over one million people filled the streets watching our athletes drive slowly past. I too was here at St Pauls watching and it was amazing! noisy, colourful and worth the wait until the parade started. This year was slightly different, I honestly believe the parade was held too late after the closing of the Olympics, not on a school day and felt an even larger turnout of spectators would have occurred if these options had been considered? A little baffled too…. I am sorry to say… *In my opinion* Just why Manchester got first pickings of the parade date when the countries capital had a later date with some key athletes we would all like to have seen did not attend the London parade as they did the day before in Manchester? I know it’s a sore point and people in the north will say they can’t get down south and they too deserve to show their appreciation but none of us can help the nation’s economy, decision making and sight-seeing attractions are all in the countries capital…. London. So you can’t hold that against the Sothern Team GB fans who have this as our advantage?
I digress but as soon as the London date was announced I made plans to attend, fortunately it fell on a day I wasn’t working and with the Parade to start at one o‘clock I knew arrival early would be an important factor into getting some great photographs! I set off at 8:00 (A lot later than I did in 2012!) stressing myself out every time I felt the train driver was stopping at unnecessary red lights or commuters were taking too long to get on and off the trains. With a heavy ruck sack of photograph equipment I made a short run in a new Olympic record time ran from Charing Cross to Trafalgar Square to find…… The Square was closed off, security in place and the square wouldn’t now open until 11:00. I didn’t realise beforehand but hey as this gate I was now at the front of the queue. I just now had to occupy myself for the next two hours until the Square opened and a further two hours until the parade started!
Would you believe as more spectators arrived and talking to people next to me these two hours went by ever so quickly apart from the odd flare up of the cheeky people wanting to push in front and getting told not too! it was a chilly but pleasant wait. Ticking down the time it wasn’t long before my bags were searched and access was gained into the third section. Children had the first reserved section, followed by family and friends of the athletes and the last section was us, the general public. So immediately I thought I would need my biggest lens and positioned myself accordingly to get the best shot with my equipment at hand. Until they allowed the public to join in with the family and friends totally threw my photography planning out the window. I did think our includance with the family and friends was a little harsh on them as now they had no real advantage of their coloured wrist band giving the side entrance and a viewing advantage? BBC television presenter and current strictly come dancing competitor Ore Oduba hosted the event with his humour and short interviews with spectators and managed to give another big shout out to local athletics club Blackheath and Bromley (Who I still remember competing against when I was young as Blackheath Harriers!)
Compared to 24hours previously in Manchester the weather in London was of bright sunshine but the temperature was pretty chilly. Still the odd Team GB athlete made an appearance on stage video the crowd or taking a selfie with the crowd behind. One o’clock finally arrived and the entrance on to the stage was theatrical as athletes danced and waved onto the stage in their sports discipline. They had me right over entering the stage on both the left and right side and with only one camera I need guidance from Ore to describe who was coming onto the stand from which side so I at least could try and capture pictures of that athlete. At one point I didn’t think they would have enough seats but they all squeezed onto the stage somehow. Interviews and screen footage took place with several crowd roars of appreciation. I couldn’t help but notice :-
• Some athletes truly loved the occasion smiling away, neck weighted down with a medal.
• Others looked like they couldn’t wait for the next hour and a half to be over with.
• Others were glued head down into their mobile phones, texting or on social media?
I have of course had a mammoth job to organise these pictures into my folders after the event the three above statements are very true. It was even noticed the national chain used to purchase their favourite hot coffee and snack ;-) Which completely goes against the image of an athlete never eats unhealthy food or treats. Probably need to remember they are out of training season so should be allowed some slack.
The parade went concluded very quickly. Played out by The Vamps? With the stage becoming a dance floor for the athletes. Their day was only half complete as a visit to Buckingham Palace soon awaited.
Tokyo is the next on the calendar for the Olympic Games. I already wish our team the very best of luck and hope planning now is taking place for our Team GB stars home coming Olympic Parade. Yes of course you know I will be there!