The Examiner’s head of features Val Javin travels to the Olympics in London and discovers it’s even better than on TV
LONDON won Olympic gold on day one. It is a medal that will not figure in the tables at the end of the Games but is one created by the hundreds of thousands of people who poured into the capital for the greatest sporting event on Earth.
This was London as no-one has ever seen it before. Always a beautiful city, its Olympic finery makes it simply breath-taking. And the crowds added that gold medal winning ingredient which can make or break any great event – an electrifying atmosphere.
Nowhere was that seen more than out at Greenwich where dressage competitor Mary King was riding in her sixth Olympics.
When the name of this remarkable 51-year-old came up on the scoreboard as the next competitor the stands erupted.
But 20,000 people bursting their lungs is enough to frighten a whole herd of horses and the commentator urged us to shush. We did. And what followed was awe-inspiring.
Mary and her horse, Imperial Cavalier, produced a career-best dressage test in an arena blanketed in silence. We kept our cool, Imperial kept his nerve and Mary delivered. As she completed her round willed on by packed stands, Greenwich erupted with a barrage of sound never normally heard in the usually restrained atmosphere of three-day eventing.
Mary’s grin, her salute to the crowd and her slapping of Imperial’s neck signalled a job well done and her comment later said it all.
“I’m not usually tearful but coming into the arena with the crowd so behind me and so good at keeping quiet when I came in was amazing,” she said.
“I’m chuffed to bits!”
So, it seems, is the whole of London.
The bunting started on the outskirts of the city where every street seemed to burst with pride, bunting and signs crying Go London Go.