When I was 10 years old the Olympics were held in Sydney and they were the first big sporting event that I can remember ever taking an interest in. Granted Great Britain weren’t exactly amazing at Olympic sports back then, but it was the first time I was consciously aware of this huge international competition and the importance that was placed upon it.
15 years later and it just so happens that I find myself living in the city where those games were held! A lot has changed since then of course – Great Britain are better for one thing! Sports science has come on leaps and bounds and as a result so have the quality and calibre of athletes and results. We’ve had three more Olympic Games since then – my favourite of which has to be the London 2012 Olympics because weren’t they just GREAT?!
However, with a spare Saturday on my hands and in honour of one of my favourite sporting events I decided a trip to the Olympic Park would be a good idea.
For a total of $3.37 on my Opal Card I took the train to the Olympic Park. This took just over an hour so I whiled away the time by catching up on emails and Whatsapps to those at home and creating a playlist on my iPod to listen to once I got there. The train that goes to the Olympic Park is called the Sprint Train and with this in mind I imagined it to be like the bullet train introduced to London that goes at a super speed to take passengers from St. Pancras to Stratford in under 10 minutes or something ridiculous! I was wrong, however. This ‘sprint’ went at approximately two miles a fortnight, but I got there eventually so I can’t complain too much!
After consulting a map of the park with various walking and cycle routes I decided on my plan of action and set off.
I chose the red route – a 7km walk which would involve a view of all the main venues as well as a few scenic wildlife spots. It was slightly bizarre – I’d go from walking around alongside a dual carriageway to then passing the aquatic centre to then being in the middle of a bush walk all in the space of a quarter of an hour! But that was all part of the novelty and something I thoroughly enjoyed!
The first port of call on my walk was the Cathy Freeman park where the Olympic Cauldron takes pride of place. This is now used more as a water feature, but on special occasions can still be lit as a cauldron.
At one point I found myself at the top of a hill, which was not only an ideal place to indulge in the picnic I had brought along with me but also a great place to selfie. The wind had other ideas, however…
My favourite and funniest bit of the walk was this hill…
Having looked at it on a 2D map I’d assumed it was some sort of maze, so it did come as something of a shock when it turned out to be a hill! Nevertheless I accepted the challenge and decided to climb to the top, though I would have much rather preferred to climb straight up rather than go round and round and round as was dictated by the stone walls and pathway. Funny story about the walls by the way…as I began my trek up I didn’t realise the path would continue all the way up the hill so climbed on to the stone wall at the bottom thinking I was getting ahead of the game. It was harder than I thought, as the stones weren’t all that level and so I didn’t feel particularly steady! I passed a few other walkers who were making their way down on the pavement and gave me some funny looks in the process, and it wasn’t until I was over 3/4 of the way up and has been overtaken by about a dozen cyclists that it dawned on me that the pavement was in fact still there! D’oh! Feeling a bit of a numpty I decided to continue with my wall route all the way to the top as then I could at least claim I was doing it for the novelty if any of the cyclists I’d seen previously asked me about it at the top!
I did use the path on the way down. No point making things difficult for myself twice, was there?!
Seeing all the old venues was pretty interesting – I refrained from venturing into any of them because most were being used for local youth tournaments and competitions. It made me think back to London and the whole philosophy of those games being to inspire a generation, and that with any luck that is exactly what all of those venues will be used for too.
As I finished my walk I splurged on a large lemon and lychee iced tea and sat on the grass alongside 100-200 teenage girls all positively orange and caked in make up and false eyelashes. It was very good there were no naked flames about as I’m not sure the copious amounts of hairspray that had quite clearly been used would’ve coped! To the untrained eye it did look a lot like these girls were all in varying states of undress and were weirdly OK with it. But, having been one of those girls myself many years ago it was obvious to me what was going on: Dance Competition.
I’m very glad those days are over for me. Did I really look like that?!
With that thought in mind I made my way back home, having racked up over 22,000 steps on my Fitbit and worked up quite an appetite for the sweet potato fries I had promised myself for dinner that night!