Sunday, September 23, 2012

Olympic Badminton

Early one morning,
‘Bout a quarter past five,
We got out of bed,
Cranked into overdrive.

We ate up our breakfast,
And prepared us some lunch.
We collected the camera,
And grabbed something to munch.

We rode the 'Jubilee line'
Almost from start to finish,
Even after twenty stops
Our excitement undiminished.

Exiting the station
We stopped, with glee,
As directly ahead
Was the stadium – Wembley.

We entered the queue,
Poured out our Evian,
Had our backpacks scanned,
Pockets checked by militarian.

At long last we were in,
And we entered the stadium
Climbed up to our seats,
Eager to watch some badminton.

We do structures and history,
And we really do know it –
But one role we should avoid
Is that of the poet.

Alright, alright. I’ll stop the rhymes now, and hand it over to the Engineer to tell you about the Olympic Badminton at Wembley.

Our first taste of live Olympic sport was a morning session of badminton. It was a knock-out session, so the group phase had finished, and teams were playing to get into the medal rounds. It was actually the first session after the debacle of teams purposely trying to lose gamesIn case anyone missed it, teams from South Korea, China and Indonesia all intentionally tried to lose their last group matches, to get an easier draw for the next round. We did wonder if we would get to see everyone trying their hardest – but as our session was a knock-out one there was no chance of that!

We got to see men’s doubles, men’s singles, women’s singles and mixed doubles. We were lucky to see China’s Lin Dan play singles on the court closest to us. He is regarded as the greatest badminton player of all time (and one year younger than me)! He won gold in Beijing, and is a four-time world champion, as well as five-time All-England champion. He won the game we watched, and went on to win gold again – becoming the first badminton player to defend their Olympic title. We also got to see Li Xuerui, who went on to win the women’s singles gold medal.
Lin Dan - good to see the world's greatest player is a leftie!

He even has a dominating handshake.
Indonesia v Germany
 Li Xuerui

Wembley Arena was almost full, so there was a good atmosphere. However it was a little unfortunate that there were three games being played at any one time, as it meant that the crowd’s attention was split three ways and different people were cheering at different times. It also meant it was hard to know what to watch, and so you missed some really good points.

At the end though, once two of the courts had finished, it was just the Danish mixed doubles team left playing the Chinese team. There were some vocal Danish supporters in the crowd (wearing Danish flags). Led on by them, with the whole crowd focused, the atmosphere really picked up. It was a shame when the game finished – and unfortunately despite the vocal support, the Danes couldn't get past the Chinese.

The Danish team and their slick moves
Overall though, it was a great morning. The whole experience was super-efficient, from the transport (tube tickets came with the event tickets), security, to ticket scanning on the door. The games makers were so friendly and cheery – as you can see, one even leant us his foam hand while he took a photo of us!

With our first Olympic experience done, we were really looking forward to the rowing, and getting to see some Kiwis in action!

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