It was one of those lucky surprises, that come along when you least expect it, that are sometimes the most fun! When a friend's husband couldn't join her for the water polo event at the new Olympic Park last week, I gladly stepped in to fill his shoes.
You see, it's the time when London Prepares--the warm up events that are testing the facilities of the Olympic Park to make sure that all the glitches are out of the way before Opening Ceremonies on July 27.
Did I mention that July 27 is my birthday, and what an amazing celebration it would be to attend the Opening Ceremonies, but alas, tickets are nowhere to be found?
Maybe the birthday fairy will come through before then, but I'm not holding my breath.
The giant Olympic Arena is ready (told you the weather has been miserable lately) and we could hear the rehearsals going on while we were there, but of course, it's top secret and only rumors are going around about what is really going to happen. Seating 80,000, it will be the home of the opening and closing ceremonies and the track and field events.
The Orbit has recently been completed, and now stands at 115 meters high as the tallest art structure in Britain. Designed by the world renowned artist, Anish Kapoor, the Orbit will not only be a work of art, but an active experience. Visitors will be able to ascend to a viewing platform near the top via a glass elevator, and then opt to take the spiral staircase coming down for views all along the way of the Olympic Park and the cityscape of London.
We headed to the Water Polo arena for our event, and our first exposure to the sport. My friend and I were a bit clueless about water polo, but we were anxious to check it out.
Playing that night were Great Britain versus Australia, and the fans were really hyped for the local team.
The British girls were ready for a challenge,
but the Australians came out on top that night. Probably the visiting kangaroo brought them the luck they needed.
We were excited to see the US team play against Hungary that evening too.
I was surprised to learn that water polo was actually the first team sport played in the Olympics (Paris, 1900.) I had never stopped to think about the skill and strength it took to play--just treading water for the length of 4 eight minute quarters, amidst swimming the length of the pool back and forth (imagine soccer/football with goalies)
combined with the strength it takes to propel up and out of the water for passing the ball, somewhat like dolphins spin up and out of the water, as well as the dexterity it takes to "palm" a wet ball coming at you.
It was amazing watching these gals, and I have a whole new respect for the sport.
We were fortunate to sit with one of the US athletes' moms, the mom of Kelly Rulon, who helped us with some of the logistics of the sport.
Final score USA 11-- Hungary 6. A great chance to cheer on our "home team" in our home away from home land. Just this hint of watching our athletes play and seeing the layout and design of the Olympic Park has made me ever so more excited about the fun coming in just a couple of months.
Hope you're a bit intrigued by this dress rehearsal into giving water polo a bit of your viewing time. It's
going to be an exciting summer!