Saturday, July 28, 2012
London Is Ready
HTBS's Tim Koch reports from London:
It takes a great politician to unite a country and in the last couple of days Mitt Romney has achieved just that. Unfortunately, the country in question is Britain and he has united it against himself. Romney questioned if the British people were truly behind the Games and went onto say ‘…. it’s hard to know just how well it will turn out’. When a right wing British tabloid criticises a Republican, he should be worried. Further, someone on Twitter pointed out that it was a new experience for Mitt to be booed by rich white people.
The Brits like to complain (except in restaurants) and the run up to the Olympics has given them plenty of material. But the problems that give rise to often justified complaints are not unique to the London Games, they are inevitable in an event where 26 world championships have to be organised to take place at the same time by people who have never done it before in venues that usually have to be especially built. Rowing should have caused the organisers fewer problems than most sports. Dorney Lake was virtually ready the day it was announced that London was to host the 2012 Olympics. ‘Legacy’, the buzz word of the modern Games, is assured as the course is owned by, and built for, Eton College (who also allow other schools, colleges and clubs to train and race there).
As the Olympics have got nearer the British national sport of complaining has decreased and another national pastime, that of uniting to celebrate a national event, has increased. The support for the 70 day Olympic Flame Relay has been tremendous with 13 million people lining the route, the Flame passing within ten miles of everyone in the country. HTBS has already reported from the Henley stage and on Friday the 27 July, the final day of the relay, it was rowing that had the honour of carrying the flame to the end of its nationwide journey.
Starting at Hampton Court Palace, the Flame was transferred to a cauldron on the bow of the Gloriana. With a crew including Matthew Pinsent, James Cracknell and Jonny Searle the rowbarge made its way to Tower Bridge in the centre of London, escorted by a flotilla of boats, mostly powered by oars. HTBS pictured the action at Kingston on Thames, a couple of hours into the final journey. The Flame was then taken to the Olympic Stadium for the Opening Ceremony, where the Olympic Cauldron was lit and stayed alight until it extinguished on the final day of the Games.
The rowing runs from Friday 28 July to Saturday 4 August with the finals held on Wednesday 1 to Saturday 4. The timetable is here.
London is ready, Eton Dorney is ready, the Brits are ready and everyone is welcome to the party (even Mitt).