On 5th August I was privileged enough to watch the artistic gymnastics finals at the North Greenwich Arena.
Two weeks ago we were informed by text message that we had won tickets to the Olympics and they would be arriving soon on our doorstep - we knew nothing about the event or date or even area of the country. At first we thought it was a hoax but as promised the tickets arrived by recorded delivery. We had tickets for the finals for the artistic gymnastics including the men's pommel horse, women's vault and men's floor routines.
It was the Sunday after we returned from holiday and we had ready babysitters on hand so we enjoyed a grown up day out, to a once in a lifetime experience.
The day went surprisingly smoothly - the train journey down to London, the tube journey across London (although rather crowded nonetheless!) and the entry to the Arena. We had read that we should leave two hours to get in and not take any food or drink in which we did and the process was seamless. Security was friendly and efficient, the London 2012 teammate volunteers full of life and very helpful - despite the pouring rain.
The North Greenwich Arena was a sight to behold - masses of pink and purple decoration, cameras everywhere, lighting, small television screens, a large screen, commentators' area, press area, medals podium and Olympic rings. I knew little about the rules and scorings of gymnastics but we were talked through it beforehand on screen and throughout by our own arena commentators.
Each event took place and then its corresponding medal ceremony which was lovely to experience. After each gymnast performed they were followed closely by a number of cameras, capturing their every expression, feeling and movement - it proved the pressures they are under not only in their own sport but within the media too. In the men's floor exercise the Chinese gymnast won gold, in the women's vault the Romanian and in the pommel horse the Hungarian. In the pommel horse event we had two members of Team GB, Max Whitlock and Louis Smith. It was a tense moment when Louis Smith's score came in tying him Gold with the Hungarian and then dropping to Silver based on his execution scores. The atmosphere was electric - as soon as the Team GB gymnasts appeared the arena erupted - at their every move we cheered, whistled and encouraged them on. That's not to say we didn't support their worldwide competitors as well. In the women's vault there were a few falls, bounces and an injury as well as loss of confidences and big disappointments. We all rallied around them and helped keep them going. The Duchess of Cambridge also put in an appearance to support Team GB in their event.
Our GB gymnasts were noble in defeat of the Gold medal and should be proud of their achievements - having seen it live, it gives you some idea of the work that has to go into being the best at your sport. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to see an Olympic final event live and we enjoyed every moment.