All posts filed under “Olympics

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Your go-to London Olympics form guide

I’m really looking forward to the London 2012 Olympics.  But if you’re like me, you only have half a clue as to who’s been performing well in a couple of sports at best.  And there are over 300 medals being awarded at this years’ Olympic Games.

I recently received a forwarded e-mail from a guy named James Hingston that says this:

Dear all,

Prompted by Richard, and my own desperate fanaticism, I’ve spent the past year putting together a complete form guide for the London 2012. The idea is that for any event… even the really random ones… you can dip in, get a solid idea of the form of athletes and teams coming into the Games, as well as some overviews on developments and changes that have taken place in the sport.

I’ve ended up developing it into a reasonably complete and semi-professional looking document (in for a penny, in for a pound) and so would not only encourage you to use it, but, if you think it’s any good, please distribute it as widely as possible amongst your friends and colleagues.

Many thanks as well (because she’ll kill me if I don’t credit her) to Lindsay for helping proof the document. It’s been designed so that you can dip in and out and use it as a reference guide – you don’t have to read all 184 pages…. She did.


This is the link to the document ( so that you can read/download/print it at your leisure.

(I will say that from the little I do know of various sports his medal predictions are a fair bit off, but the data he compiled is absolutely amazing.)

Get it here:



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Your guide to getting London 2012 Olympics tickets

CZ Weightlifting

I went to the Olympics for the first time in 2008, and had the most amazing experience.  If you’re someone that enjoys sport (any sport) it is an experience of a lifetime.

The ticketing process opens Tuesday, March 15th: 500 days before the Opening Ceremonies.  This post is a guide to (most) everything you want or need to know about getting tickets to the London 2012 Olympics.

The basics

Application window, not sales

If you think you need to get your request in first thing on March 15th, don’t.  There is a six-week application window during which you can submit your ticket application.  All requests received during this window are treated equally.  When the window closes, the London 2012 committee will evaluate how many applications were made for each session and price-point of ticket.  There is then a lottery/matching process to allocate the actual tickets, and you find out what you get at the end of that.

What starts in March is the application for tickets, not the sales themselves.

Secondary market

Yes, there will be a secondary market for tickets.  According to the London 2012 ticketing website, once you apply for tickets you’re committed to purchasing the tickets you are allocated.  But there will be an official ticket resale programme run by London 2012.  Additionally, there are always unofficial channels for reselling tickets.

What you need to plan

You must visit the London 2012 ticketing website to view the full competition schedule for the 2012 Olympics.  There’s a complete PDF, and an individual PDF for each sport.  It lists the dates, times, locations, and ticket prices for each session in the Olympics.  It details which exact events are included in each session, so you can pick out exactly what you want to see.  (Though for knock-out competitions like football, beach volleyball, etc., you won’t know who will be competing until the Games themselves.)


Key advice

Events subject to supply and demand.  (Some are not obvious.)

Some sports are fairly easy to get tickets for; they’re held in large venues and not as popular a sport.  Some are very hard: I specifically remember swimming being nearly impossible to get tickets for in Beijing.  The venue for swimming isn’t very big, and nearly half of the available space was taken up by world-wide press!  The demand for tickets roughly correlates to the TV popularity of a given sport; swimming, gymnastics, athletics are quite popular.  Weightlifting, shooting, and modern pentathlon less so.

Also, you can certainly try to apply for Opening Ceremonies tickets, but there’s so few left over after sponsors and athletic associations and governments get their tickets, there will hardly be any available.  Just so you have appropriate expectations…

Remember this when applying; you’re unlikely to get all of the tickets you want, and even less likely when they’re very popular events.

Lesser-known sports can be incredibly cool

This surprised me a bit based on my Beijing experience, but’s absolutely true.  The B finals in weightlifting (where they aren’t even eligible for medals) were just as riveting as any other sport I saw.  I also saw Greco-Roman wrestling for the very first time and it was awesome!  The organizers in Beijing had flyers at the entrance of each venue with information and rules about each sport, so if you weren’t familiar you could quickly get up to speed.

Fundamentally, the athletes at the Olympics are the very best in their particular sport. They have usually trained for years and years to get to that point, and are at their peak physical condition.  Any sport where the very best athletes are competing with so much on the line is awe-inspiring.

Cheap tickets can still be great seats

This is something else I’m really glad I learned in Beijing.  There really are no bad seats at a venue. The organizers go out of their way to install large screens so you can see the closeups of what you want, and scoreboards are everywhere.  Certainly the more you’re willing to spend, the better the seat you’ll get.  But even if you get tickets in what seems like the nosebleed section of the Olympic Stadium, you’ll still have a great experience.  (That’s where LondonAnnie and I had tickets in the Bird’s Nest in Beijing, and we had a fantastic time.)  Cheap seats at the Olympics are still good tickets.

Where you buy your tickets depends on where you live.

Buying tickets depends on where you reside.  The London 2012 ticket site is for residents of the UK and (most) European countries.  If you’re a resident of the USA, Canada, Australia, Norway, Sweden, Austria or Bulgaria, is where you need to register to apply for tickets.  If you have any questions, check the London 2012 site here regarding eligibility.

Think about locations and travel time

While most venues are in/around the Olympic Park (Stratford), the Docklands (East London) or Central London, not all of them are.  Rowing is an hour journey from central London, sailing is on England’s south coast, and most football (soccer) matches are spread all over the country.  Be sure to understand where each sport is located, particularly if you’re interested in seeing multiple sports in one day.  (Which you should!)

Also, this is a great opportunity for people elsewhere in the country to experience the Olympics without traveling to London.

Free public transportation

If you hold an Olympic ticket for any event on a particular day of competition, public transportation will be free.  So don’t worry about costs and how you’ll get from venue to venue; it’ll be sorted for you and be free.


Recommended Strategies

Request as many tickets as you can afford

Tickets can quickly get expensive, so you understandably can’t apply for all of the tickets you want.  (And you’re obligated to buy all the tickets you’re allocated, even though you could resell them later.)  But you’re also not likely to get all of the tickets you apply for because of supply and demand.  Evaluate how much you’re willing to spend, and apply for as many tickets as you can.

“Go deep” on one sport

I like/recommend the strategy of choosing one sport, and then bidding for better tickets and a deeper experience that sport.  It’s great to get into one sport and really enjoy the full experience, from qualifying rounds to medal rounds.  (Though for some sports, you’ll definitely still have to pick and choose!)  But you can then combine this with cheaper tickets in other sports, so your money gets you to as many events as possible.

Be sure to include at least a few sports “off the beaten path”

Some of the lesser known sports can be fantastic experiences.  The athletes are truly in it for the love of the sport; they’re never going to be famous even if they win gold.  The drama of these athletes competing at the pinnacle of their sport is really one of the best things about going to the Olympics, and I’d highly recommend seeing some of the sports that are “off the beaten path.”



When you apply for Olympics tickets, it pays to be prepared.  Think about how much you’re willing to spend, look into all of the sports, and have a strategy when applying.  Then submit your application and wait for the results.

No matter what tickets you end up getting, you will absolutely enjoy the experience.  The Olympic games are like nothing else.


History of my 2008 Olympics experience

These are links to the photos and blog posts of my 2008 Beijing Olympics experience.  It will hopefully give you an idea of what to expect.

2008 Beijing Olympics photos  (2628 photos) – by LondonAnnie
2008 Beijing blog posts

Photo at the top is from LondonAnnie here:

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Our Olympic travels are over

I can’t believe it’s already Saturday! I know it’s been too long since I posted last, but hopefully this will explain why. Essentially, the last few days in Beijing were incredibly busy, then we flew back to London and immediately went back to work. I’m glad that we’ve got Monday off (bank holiday) so I can spend some time catching up!

Sunday Rowing

There were just seven races on the Sunday of the rowing finals. They were the lightweight boats, quad sculls and eights.

Lightweight Mens Double Sculls – GB wins! It was a close race, but GB was ahead pretty much throughout and kept it strong through the end.
The father of one of the guys in the boat was sitting just a few seats away from us in the bleachers, and he just broke down in happiness when his son won. Annie’s photo is from here.

Women’s Quad Sculls – GB takes silver. This was always going to be a tight race, since the Chinese boat has become incredibly fast in the last few years. The top boat for both GB and China’s women’s squad is the quad.

GB led for most of this race, but China was nipping at their heels the entire time. In the last five hundred or so, China put through a massive push and just got them by the line. The girls in the GB boat were clearly devastated. We managed to say hello to Annie Vernon later that day and it was clear that she was extraordinarily disappointed. I just hope that in the coming weeks and months they realize just how much they accomplished by earning a silver.

Women’s Eight – GB takes fifth, USA wins. The USA boat was simply a rocket, taking a lead and never relinquishing it. The GB girls had a hard time. Two of the girls from the boat got ill and had to have substitutes for the final. So while it’s probably not what they wanted (they got bronze in the 2007 World Championships), it was a good performance considering!

Men’s Eight – Canada takes gold, GB the silver, and USA the bronze. This was always going to be a tight race between Canada and GB, and it was. Both of them won their heats with very fast performances, going straight to this final.

Unfortunately GB couldn’t quite make it in the end, and I know they were very disappointed. (Though they weren’t the flagship boat for the men’s squad, they were convinced that they could win.)


A friend from Thames Rowing Club has an older brother in the boat, and he swum out to them as soon as they came across the finish line. Unfortunately for him, he had forgotten that he really didn’t know how to swim! It had to be the slowest doggy-paddle I have ever seen

Monday events

Monday was our busiest day by far. We started out with Triathlon, then had Weightlifting, and ended the night with Athletics. We were up at 6:30am and didn’t get home until about midnight.


The venue for triathlon was absolutely beautiful. It was held on and around a reservoir quite a way out from Beijing, and the day was very bright and sunny. It was an interesting event to watch. While the entire swim and both “transitions” happen right in front of you, most of the bike and run portions are out on the roads. The event organizers had a couple of huge TV displays for the crowd, which worked quite well. Monday was the women’s triathlon, which was won in quite convincingly by an Australian woman.


Unfortunately, we were only able to get tickets to the B final for the 105+ kg men, so it wasn’t quite the drama you have when everyone is competing for medals. That said, the weights these guys were lifting were incredible! While we had “nosebleed” seats, in the weightlifting hall that didn’t really mean anything and we still had a great view.


Athletics was fantastic, and I look forward to getting more tickets for this in London in 2012. It kicked off with women’s discus, which was won by the USA!! (On her first throw, by the way.) Shortly after the discus got started, the women’s pole vault kicked off. We also saw Bolt run in the heats of the Men’s 200m, and the semi’s of the women’s 100m hurdles and 400m hurdles. Other finals included men’s long jump, mens 3000m steeplechase, men’s 400m hurdles and womens 800m.

It was difficult to keep track of all the events going on at the same time. Occasionally they interfered with each other a bit. One long jumper was getting the crowd to clap for him as he jumped, but that caused about 2 or 3 false starts in the 200m heats as runners heard the claps as the starter’s gun! (Oops). There was also quite a bit of a kerfluffle in the women’s pole vault, as Brazil couldn’t find her pole. (How does that happen?) The Brazillian woman literally stopped the competition and got all of the judges involved until her pole was found. That couldn’t have been fun for anyone.


All of the events were great, but the women’s pole vault took the cake for me in the end. It happened right in front of us, and was a great event. The Russian woman who has set the last few world records set a new Olympic record and won the gold. But she decided to keep going and try for a new World record. Her last few jumps actually happened after everything else was done for the night; everyone that stayed was staying just to see if she could do it and on her third try she set a new World Record of 5.05m! (Photo is from Annie here.)

When everything was all over, thousands of people spilled out onto the streets and it was an absolute pain in the ass to find a taxi. But we finally did, and made it home around midnight.

Tuesday – Men’s triathlon

The only event we had on Tuesday was Men’s Triathlon, though it meant that we didn’t get much sleep between a late night on Monday and an early triathlon start on Tuesday.

The conditions were nearly identical to those on Monday: sunny and hot. The men’s race seemed to be quite a bit closer than the women’s. The main pack on the cycle portion included about 50 of the 55 competitors, and there were numerous lead changes on the run. (The women’s lead pack only had about 20 cyclists, and the eventual runner started the run in first and just extended her lead.) At one point a GB competitor was in first on the run, but fell back and finished about 12th or so. But he’s only 20 so will certainly be back and better… In the final straight there were four guys all literally sprinting to the line which was extremely exciting to watch!

After the event was over we headed into town to get a few last shirts and other gifts at the Adidas shop in the center of town and then went back home to pack. And that pretty much wrapped up our Olympic experience.

In closing…

While I may post about the Olympics in the coming days/weeks, it will probably only be to post photos. I think I’ve said just about everything possible about the trip! I just hope it’s been at least a little interesting.

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Saturday rowing finals – Fun, exciting and messy

The only event we had on Saturday was rowing. It included the A finals (and medal ceremonies) for the men and women’s single sculls, double sculls, coxless pairs, and the men’s coxless four.

Photos for everything can be found by clicking here.

The big race

The most exciting race of the day (for us) was the final of the women’s double sculls. Our friend Elise Laverick was racing for Great Britain with her partner Anna Bebington. It was going to be a tough race for them; while they had beaten most or all of the crews at some point or another, a couple of them had posted really strong times in the heats and reps earlier this week.

Elise and Anna seemed to get a good start, and were well in the mix in the first 500 meters. Some of the other boats seemed to take a bit of a push in the second 500 meters, which pushed them back to about fourth. But in the second half of the race China started dropping back and Elise and Anna really started going strong and put themselves in the lead pack. The last five hundred was incredible, and all three medallists (New Zealand, Germany, and Great Britain) crossed the finish line within ~2 feet of each other (0.22 seconds). Elise and Anna put in a massive effort in the last 250-500 meters to close the gap. Perhaps the best part was that in the last 500 it was clear that the top three boats had really separated themselves from the rest, and were going to be on the podium. We found out later that Elise/Anna were the quickest boat in the last 1000 meters of the race.

I was lucky enough to get tickets to the “friends and family” stand for both rowing finals days. Each country’s supporters group together, and it seems the Commonwealth countries (GB, Australia, New Zealand, etc.) have particularly big contingents, though the US group was pretty big, too. Life in the stands is fun, since so many people know each other from various rowing-related activities and events. But it also gets really messy… for the cost of one pint of beer in London, you can buy eight from the Olympics concessions stands. One GB support or another seemed to bringing a box filled with beer cups up to the stands every few minutes or so. That got interesting…

Luckily we got to meet up with Elise after the race. (Anna had to go to drug testing, which was literally taking hours. She wasn’t done until three hours after they got in.) That’s where I snapped this picture.

Other great races

Michelle Guerette from the USA took a surprising silver in the women’s single sculls event. The Belarus sculler (who had won the last three world championships, I believe) was pushed to bronze. It was an amazing performance for her, and she put in a huge push in the last 500 meters to put herself there. She was featured in a New York Times feature article on rowing earlier this year, so it great to see her success match some of the coverage of her.

The Great Britain men’s double scullers also took bronze. While Australia looked awesome in the event, Matt Wells and Steven Rowbotham look great and took bronze in style.

In a great race, the Great Britain men’s coxless four took gold. This boat has been the “flagship” of the mens rowing squad since 2000. While GB was in the pack, they weren’t leading for most of the race. They stayed near the leaders and put in one hell of a massive push in the last 250 meters to win it. The leaders up until that point (Australia) seemed to crumble once their lead was lost, and ended up losing by about half a length. It was particularly cute when the four did their row-past after the medals ceremony and the sister of the stroke-man (Andy Triggs-Hodge) jumped the fence and swam out into the lake to congratulate her brother.

The men’s single sculls race was as fascinating as ever. Alan Campbell of Great Britain got a great start and was leading early. But the lead switched several times until Olaf Tufte of Norway crossed the line first, with Czech Republic in silver and Mahe Drysdale of New Zealand in bronze. Mahe was predicted to do better, but I heard through the grapevine that he had a bit of a stomach bug earlier this week, which couldn’t have helped. Alan probably could have done better as well, but he had several weeks out of the boat this year for knee surgery. That Alan got into the A final is one hell of an accomplishment after that!