2012 London Olympics: Top 10 Memories, Part Two

National pride was fueled by local fans (like those in Weymouth rooting for sailing team Patience Bithell) as enthusiasm for Team GB spread across all of the UK.

John Scott Lewinskiby John Scott Lewinski

More than a week has gone by since the London 2012 Olympics, and the city is well on its way to completing preparations for the follow-up 2012 Paralympics.

Covering the London 2012 Olympics was easily the best working experience of this reporter’s life. Before I file all of the photos away and close the book on my recollections of the Summer Games, my final story on this athletics adventure through Great Britain’s capital city takes a look back at the Top 10 Memories of the Olympic fortnight.

Here are the top five entries:

5) Media Perks: As a reporter in town to cover London 2012, I had offers to sample some more touristy outings to educate me on Great Britain’s other attractions. To be honest, it was difficult to call some of those excursions “work.” I rode the Orient-Express and enjoyed a gourmet lunch en route to Kent. I visited the seaside for sailing in Dorset. I samples yet another elite lunch aboard the Queen’s Jubilee barge down the River Thames. I took in exclusive art and history exhibits along London’s South Bank neighborhood at the Tate Modern and Shakespeare’s Globe. I reveled in the 50th Anniversary of James Bond at the Barbican. In short, I didn’t let the moss grow under my boots.

4) London Transit: The 2012 Summer Games poured hundreds of thousands of athletes, coaches, support staff, fans and tourists into one of the most populated cities on Earth. There were dire warnings of potential disasters – nightmare predictions of endless lines into Tube stations, eternal  traffic jams throughout Central London and pedestrians congestions that would choke out intersections from Covent Garden to Canary Wharf.

Like most fears and anxieties in life, none of that came to pass. Was the city busy? Yes. Were there occasional crowds beyond the London norm? Sure. But the trains ran spot on time both in the London Underground and via Intercity Rail. Everyone got where they needed to go when they needed to be there – leaving the actual enjoyment of the Games as the primary topic of conversation.

3) London’s Sporting Spirit: As one of Europe great capitals, London is already home to history, theater, art and enough great restaurants to make the myth of bad British food a myth. But, when you add the energy and excitement of a huge international sporting event like an Olympiad to that mix, the ambiance of London crackled and vibrated with pride and excitement. I could feel it  at every athletics venue, whether I rode my motorcycle into the city or whether I took the train into Waterloo Station for my short commuter walk across Westminster Bridge to Parliament Square. If I can paraphrase The Kinks, “As long as I looked on the Waterloo sunset, I was in paradise.”

2) Cycling in Ripley: No event I covered revealed the character of Great Britain’s Summer Olympics more than the morning I spent in Surrey taking in Team Cycling. I rolled out of my hotel bed at the Talbot Inn outside Woking and walked the short distance up Ripley High Street to find an entire town gathered together in celebration of their village hosting an Olympic event. Sure, actual Olympians passed through in less than 10 seconds, but that was good enough to warrant countless parties and on official plaque commemorating the day.

1) The People: London was always known as a city of culture and history. But, for anyone who attended these Olympics those reputations will be transformed into a city of friendliness and hospitality. A massive team of Olympic Staffers and volunteers helped a huge international event run very smoothly – and safely. I send a special thank you to the London Metropolitan Police, Scotland Yard, London Ambassadors, LOCOG (London Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games), London and Partners, Transport for London, VisitEngland, VisitBritain and the crew of the London Media Centre at One Great George Street.

 

Be sure to visit 2012 London Olympics: Top 10 Memories, Part One.