I bought tickets to watch the boxing finals at the Olympics last year, more accurately they were bought for me as everybody knows how much I love boxing. I was so chuffed to be going and that the tickets were for the final of my favourite sport one in which I competed moons ago. But I didn’t actually put it all together in my mind until I got close to the Excel centre; An Olympic final, a historical first and what was to turn out to be a GB gold to boot!
You couldn’t help but notice all the green shirts…. thousands of Irish supporters as apparently there was some tasty boxer from those shores on the same bill!! Walking up to the Excel centre they swarmed the streets and bars exuding pride and adulation from every one of each of their millions of pores. I wondered how they had ALL managed to be so successful in their ticket purchase despite the debacle here. But was hoping Katie would wipe the floor with Sofya as I thought she had fabulous shoulders.
The Excel centre looked cool, Ive never been to anything held here before. There were some people sitting in umpire chairs en route to the front door on megaphones. They had to repeat one line of text every 2 mins, I began to feel relieved I didn’t get sucked into the middle class wash of excitement to apply to be an Olympic volunteer last year. There was few rouge volunteers on megaphones; notably the guy on the DLR getting us all to chant “everybody in da house say hooooooooooo haaaaaaaaaaaa” and sticking the V’s up at his script. I noticed also that the British have a different…dare I say it clearer understanding of what it means to queue. I didn’t mind too much the pair squeezing in front of me to get their stuff on the scanner through security, but when they practically head butted me to get past ticket check I shot their chi with my Vulcan like dagger sonic boom meridian and that stopped them in their tracks.
Inside the holding area of the Excel there was very little of interest apart from an even more condensed sea of green shirts….more rowdy and shouty than outside, I was both amazed and impressed that Katie had managed to orchestrate such a party and that the Irish were so strong. It made me think more about the glory of unification sport could exacerbate or even generate.
In a quiet corner away from the bars I found this stand (maybe because it was by the treat shed?) along with other Olympic boxing memorabilia. When I was boxing Nicola had pricked my consciousness….she was winning everything and I relished her skill and focus. In those days though I only had room for one idol; Lucia Rijvek, but Nicola did a sterling job of coming second to her for me!!
Boxing for me now with BFC is a much better life balance than actually having to train like a dog….as the ones like myself who cant find the guts, determination or commitment to make it to Olympic platforms can still flounce around the gym pretending to know what we are talking about yet still have dessert and a drink.
Despite not really being interested in anything at the Olympics except the spectacle of the sporting events I thought this picture summed it up pretty well. I travelled from Brighton on a few trains where I had a seat and once in London found the Olympic navigation really well sign posted. The DLR was quick and easy and the navigation and facilities and helpfulness of the organisers and volunteers couldn’t have been better. If I was to be picky I would like to mention that I detested travelling on the tube. I hate travelling on the tube so much I would rather put sand grit in my bra, but on this particular occasion in mid August on one of the hottest days we have had so far this summer to be trapped underground in a pod full of people looking at the floor with B.O and attitude hurtling along at a zillion miles an hour through a back hole is the last place I wanted to be. Oh and arriving off the DLR in East London is pretty skanky too.
Once inside a yummy mummy asked the queen whether she enjoyed boxing. The Queen turned out to not actually be the Queen and was infact an old school female boxer who had paved the way for all of us lot.
I thought it was amazing that she ended up looking like the queen and what royal family member I may end up bearing resemblance to.
I loved the tone of retribution in her voice against all those who said “no” to her in her day and the way she preserved her dignity and femininity and thought if I seriously did end up with any of her traits I would be a very very lucky old bird!
Finally the show started. The girls touched gloves and the first round was under way. The atmosphere was electric, Nicola was boxing brilliantly and it struck me how great and yet weird at the same time it must have felt to have the entire stadium chanting your name. We were all at it, stamping our feet and bellowing like warriors in a tribe at her. She was so light and nimble flick flacking all around the ring; popping in to say hello to Ren’s left cheekbone then quickly darting out again to twizel to the left and then faint to her right before another dazzling flurry of punches.
I am aware my boxing commentary is special, the next thing to occur was camera malfunction rendering me pretty useless as an Olympic reporter. However I have a memory of that night that I will never lose. Forget history in the making, forget national pride….lets talk about me for a minute here: I trained and trained and trained all my life. Im nearly 40 and still training all the time, I don’t fight any longer due to a disc problem but I pump iron, swing heavy things and run till my lungs pop out of my earholes. When I was fighting fit, literally, and training all the hours under the sun I managed to get myself into the ring to kickbox for a British title and the same lack of fire in my belly that I still respect now in people I couldnt muster. I never cared for a belt, for people to say well done or she has this sash or that grading, all I ever wanted to do was train and spar. Its probably why Ive got a bulging disc in my neck and definitely why I absolutely totally wholeheartedly respect to the max those who
get up and say “I’m prepared to put it on the line” “I want to test myself” “I want to show the world I am ready for anything” Nicola Adams on the night of Thursday the 9th of August 2012 didn’t need a camera or a microphone, she doesnt need a sports reporter….you only had to watch her heart and show to see what stuff she was made of and what this occasion meant to her. Nicola Adams, I salute you.
Later that night there was plenty more tribal action amongst the crowd which I enjoyed surfing on. Katie Taylor won her bout, I was standing on my chair next to a hunchbacked ageing Irish man shouting ringside advice from the middle of a packed stadium like an old coach. I was amazed at how much plyometric energy she had left in her tank, when the judges called the final score.
After these amazing fights there was a middleweight contest and the best woman won. We went to the Southbank and had some lovely food before getting back onto the disgusting pod train which made me sweat on the back of my hands the humidity was so high.
This weekend the Olympics is over and normal life resumes; telly wont be on silent in the background 24hours a day and conversations will be far more diverse. I have been impressed with the Olympics and dare I say an iota of national pride has crept in it has been amazing to touch the world in this way from my door step and inspired me to get Rio tickets, I’d love to follow Nicola Adams story and watch her defend her Olympic title. I’d love to see Natasha Jonas again, did she come outa nowhere or have I had my eye off the ball too long?