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Thousands of people gathered in Victoria Park Sunday night to watch the closing ceremony. The park hosted the largest free viewing of the event. In addition to three large screens to watch the ceremony, there was a ferris wheel, zip lines, dance performances and live musical acts.
Photos by Valerie Carnevale.
This package was compiled by writers from BSU at the Games.
Pilgrimage (n): “a journey, especially a long one, made to some sacred place as an act of religious devotion … as to pay homage.”—Dictionary.com
The word pilgrimage often inspires images of religious relics and trips to the Holy Land. However, pilgrimages take many forms.
Many of the thousands of fans filling Olympic stadiums in London have stolen time from gold medals and world records to visit other, less obvious places in England’s capital city. You see them everywhere, trying to push a cart through a wall in King’s Cross station, or walking in single file across busy Abbey Road, or standing for the duration of a three-hour Shakespeare play.
They have traveled thousands of miles and parted with unknown sums for this—a photo, a feeling, a moment. And not because guidebooks told them to (though many do), not because their travel companions or the folks at home necessarily understand.
Their reasons are both highly personal and comfortingly communal. They are pilgrims. They are geeks.
And everyone is a geek about something.
TOWER OF LONDON
Hanging out with dead people at the most haunted place in London
By Kait Buck
Thirty-two pounds. It’s the equivalent of 52 U.S. dollars. Fifty-two dollars could buy a girl a lot of things.
What did it buy this girl? Entrance into the Tower of London—twice.
I’m not your typical tourist. I eat, sleep and breathe history, and Great Britain just happens to be home to my favorite time period. Medieval monarchs are my calling. I’ve indulged in countless books on the Tudor dynasty and their early predecessors.
And the Tower of London is a central landmark in these historical tales, as the site of coronation processions, mysterious disappearances and unprecedented executions.
At the Tower, I stood before the unmarked graves of 1,000 headless “traitors.” I examined graffiti carved into the palace walls by prisoners from my history books. I walked through the rooms where King Henry VI and the little York princes were murdered. I passed the Traitor’s Gate where Queen Anne Boleyn was brought for her coronation and later her execution. I studied the armor worn by the infamous King Henry VIII (and almost hyperventilated from excitement).
You see, these landmarks in the Tower are more than signs to read or the butt of witty jokes by a tour guide. People I’ve admired, respected and hated walked the ground beneath my feet. So rather than “tourist,” I’d say I’m a pilgrim—one who journeys a long distance to see a place she holds sacred.
My pilgrimage ended at Tower Green, a site where three queens and a dozen other noblemen lost their lives. Here a monument was erected in their honor, and the description engraved captures the motives of my journey beautifully:
“Gentle visitor pause awhile. Where you stand, death cut away the light of many days. Here jeweled names were broken from the vivid thread of life. May they rest in peace while we walk the generations around their strife and courage under these restless skies.”
SHAKESPEARE’S GLOBE THEATRE
Shakespeare enthusiasts go for the ‘groundling’ experience
Along the River Thames in the midst of the modern architecture of Central London, Shakespeare fans step out of the 21st century and into a bit of the medieval world.
Shakespeare’s Globe is a reconstruction of the Globe Theatre, which was built in 1599 by the playing company the Lord Chamberlain’s Men. It’s set up just like the original Globe, with a ground level, seats that span the circle shape of the theatre and an open roof. The Globe is both a tribute to Shakespeare and a venue for performances of his work.
Just outside the venue, “groundlings” queue for nearly two hours before the play begins. They only pay 5 pounds for a presale ticket, but that also means standing for the duration of the three-hour performance.
Clare Eanes was the very first person in the groundling line to see “Richard III” Wednesday night.
“Part of the fun of being a groundling is all atmospheric: the groundling community, and you get to chat with people in the queue,” she said. “I wouldn’t want to sit in the seats.”
Eanes is studying Shakespeare for her master’s degree at the University of Birmingham. “Richard III” was the only Shakespeare play she had not yet seen.
Admitting to being a diehard Shakespeare fan, her eyes lit up as she talked about why she loves seeing his plays.
“All of my focus through my study has been how you take Shakespeare’s language and then put it on the stage, and how that works when you have an actor performing it and an audience understanding it,” she said. “All his words bring his characters to life.”
A few people down the line, Lesley Jones waited patiently for the perfect standing spot. She had been to five shows at the Globe. This was her second play at the Globe that day; she saw “Henry V” in the afternoon.
She sat in line for over an hour and a half but said that it’s well worth the wait.
“It’s the first time that I’ve been able to get right to the front, which was really exciting this afternoon,” she said. “So I want to do it again.”
The line finally started moving, and the groundlings filed into the theatre.
Nikita Nemygin found his spot up against the stage. Even through intermission, he held his ground so no one could take his prime location.
This was his fourth time seeing “Richard III” but his first time seeing it at the Globe.
“It’s very interesting to see how the history evolves in Shakespeare [plays],” he said. “I’ve found that ‘Richard III’ is one of the best histories of Shakespeare.”
He’s no stranger to the Globe, though, as he saw every play last season and hopes to see all of this season’s.
“I enjoy that it’s 5 pounds,” he said. “I enjoy standing here, and the atmosphere is very homey. And it’s not really touristy.”
During the performance, most audience members seem to forget they’re living in the modern world and become entranced by the story unfolding on the stage. Aside from a few jets that fly over the open roof and act as a reminder of the world outside, the atmosphere holds true to the Elizabethan era.
“I just the love the way that you can come along and be surrounded by all these people in the queue,” Eanes said. “Some of them will be Shakespeare academics; some of them will be tourists that have never seen Shakespeare before.
“And they’re all going to leave having something different from it. Some of them will understand all the complex references; some of them will just love the spectacle. That’s what I really love, is how many different people his words can touch and the different ways that [Shakespeare] does that.”
KING’S CROSS STATION
For Harry Potter lovers, Platform 9 ¾ is the London landmark they must see
By Jack Meyer
Laughter rang through London’s King’s Cross-St. Pancras train station Tuesday as children, teens, 20-somethings and parents took turns having their pictures taken attempting to walk through one of the station’s solid brick walls into the magical world of Harry Potter.
Unlike in J.K. Rowling’s hit books, no one actually managed to pass through the wall with the silver luggage trolley to the fictional train and Platform 9 3/4 that takes wizards and witches to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardy. But that doesn’t stop the books’ fans from coming to the site where half of a luggage trolley is made to look like as if it is on its way through the wall.
Three girls from Maryland pulling luggage joked about being in their 20s and still excited to see the platform in person after having their picture taken pushing the trolley together.
The three said they had used their day to see two of the most important things in London for them, Abbey Road Studios and Platform 9 3/4. They plan to see Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament later in their trip.
“Every kid wants to find out they’re a wizard and not just what they are,” Kate Selby of Gaithersburg, Md., said. “It makes it real; we get to take part in Harry’s trip being in King’s Cross.”
Parents stood smiling alongside children in line to have a turn at attempting to push through onto the fictional platform, which isn’t really at the place in the station used in the movies that accompany the seven-book series.
But that didn’t seem to bother any of the passersby.
One parent, Amy Haas from Hilliard, Ohio, was far more excited than her two teenage kids to throw her bag into the basket of the trolley and fly towards its handlebars.
“J.K. Rowling is absolutely my favorite author,” Haas said. “It just makes the fantasy more real if you imagine yourself doing it.”
“She’s a kook,” chimed Amy’s husband, Dan, as their kids laughed.
The group said they had skipped seeing London’s famous Westminster Abbey for their mother to have a chance to see the trolley on their way to Wembley Stadium to take in an Olympic soccer match between Japan and Mexico.
Haas said she was inspired by Rowling’s books to begin writing herself. She said she hopes to have a book finished in the next three years and intends to have it published.
John Larkin, 12, of New Jersey, ran to push against the trolley with his two sisters while their father stood to the side to take pictures of the three children looking back, beaming.
Larkin said seeing the exhibit was second on his list of things to see in London, just behind the Olympic Games.
“It inspires me because Harry was like a nobody before he became a wizard,” Larkin said. “And then he’s like an everybody now.”
Tourists fly around the world just to walk across this road—Abbey Road
The walk down Grove End Road exiting St. John’s Wood Station is quiet—until it meets Abbey Road. There, a little ways down from Abbey Road Studios, groups of Beatles fans attempt to cross the legendary crosswalk hoping to recreate the album cover and capture the perfect picture.
A constant stream of cars makes it easier said than done. On Wednesday, as soon as traffic started to slow, six friends ran across laughing and speaking quickly in Spanish. They struck a pose as the seventh in their group snapped a photo before dashing to the other side to let traffic flow through again. After checking the photo, they tried again several times with different combinations of the group.
Moments later, brothers Joe and Alex Morris of Wales casually strolled across the street, high-fiving when they get to the other end. Goal accomplished. Yet their dad, Michael, standing farther down the street with a camera, shooed them back across for a better photo. Their mother, Anne, laughed as she watched them from her post on a brick wall.
“I think it’s really funny how people can’t walk naturally when they’re doing this,” she said as Alex walked a bit stiffly across.
By this time, Joe had removed his shoes to imitate Paul McCartney.
“It’s eerie,” he said. “Just being in the same place as they were 40 years ago.”
Actually, it was exactly 43 years to the day that John, Paul, George and Ringo stopped traffic to shoot the cover photo for their 11th studio album—Aug. 8, 1969.
Andy David from Australia was one of the few who seemed to know this. The self-confessed Beatles nerd grew up listening to the Beatles since the age of 6.
“But what kind of Beatles fan am I coming here without a Beatles shirt?” he said as he looked down at his outfit.
As David, who came alone, searched for someone to take his picture, Texan Meera Nandlal took her turn crossing the street.
“I look like a complete nut trying to get the pose,” she said. “When you’re thinking about it, you don’t look as graceful as the Beatles did.”
Soon, Mario Pipola and Carmen Norero, London flatmates originally from Italy and Chile respectively, approached her and asked if she could take their picture walking across.
For Pipola, walking across Abbey Road was something he couldn’t miss out on while in London.
“I have to say thank-you to the Beatles,” he said. “I think they were a starting point in my life.”
His father listened to the Beatles when Pipola was a child and it was because of them that he learned to play guitar. He felt that he owed them for the impact music has had on his life.
Most motorists were patient with the groups, but not all. Cars honked as people stalled in the middle of the road. Anxious motorcyclists zoomed through the groups. Even with people standing in the middle, cars tried to inch past.
“I like this one,” Nandlal said, laughing as she looked through her photos from that day, stopping on one that had a car in it. “It shows how brave I am.”
After 13 attempts to get the pose right, Nandlal ran out into the middle of the crosswalk again. She had to get the perfect photo because she said all her friends would critique it.
“Just one more,” she said. “I want to get it before dark.”
Instead of recreating the iconic walking pose, she squared herself off to the photographer, plastered a big grin on her face and threw her hands up in the air as if to say, “I’m finally here!”
PRINCESS DIANA MEMORIAL
Beloved princess inspires devotion to memorial fountain
Princess Diana was one of Great Britain’s most beloved royals. Until her death in a tragic car accident in 1997, she served as an inspiration to the British people. Now the Diana Memorial Fountain in Hyde Park in London carries on her memory.
The circular granite fountain creates a path of endless flowing water and encourages passersby to sit and dip their feet in the current.
One such visitor, Virginia Engles, sat quietly one recent afternoon at the top of the lawn of the memorial, looking on the scene. Half-dressed children ran in and out of the water.
A native Londoner, Engles visits the memorial about once a month. Though her reasons vary, she said the Diana Memorial holds a special place in her heart.
“In the summer, I’ll bring the kids to play in the water,” she said, pointing at Julia, 8, and Tom, 6. The two joined the other children splashing around on the granite.
“But mostly when I come here it’s to sit and read, or meditate, or just not do anything,” she said.
Engles believes that this is one of the most tranquil places in London. The 143-acre park provides a calm backdrop to the rush of the water.
“Her life was so full of giving and love, even after the divorce,” said Engles. “She was the type of person who won a Nobel Peace Prize but wasn’t above visiting those with AIDS, or simply dedicating something to the children of London.”
The fountain is not a grand marble statue or an overly thought-out metaphor. It is simple and elegant and open to all who should pass by—much as Diana lived her life, according to Engles.
Hardcore tennis fans visit Wimbledon just for a peek through the gates
The sounds of grunts and tennis balls being hit back and forth were gone. The crowds who loudly cheered for the United Kingdom’s Andy Murray to win a gold medal in tennis a day earlier were at different Olympic sites and places across the city. Still, Wimbledon had tennis players and fans milling around outside.
Even with the gates locked and no one permitted on the grounds.
“It’s history in there,” Kasey Plighton from Connecticut said. “I played tennis in high school, and it’s a place I always wanted to go.”
Plighton had made the trip to London for the Olympic Games with her mother, JoAnna. A recent college graduate, the 22-year-old didn’t play at the University of Colorado but still felt a connection to the sport and the site of the historic tournament.
Jayme Robinson, who lives a 15-minute walk from Wimbledon, said a lot of people like Plighton and her mom come through the area during the year to peek in the gates and walk around when tournaments aren’t going on.
“Anytime I walk down here in the summer (in Wimbledon Park, adjacent to the tennis venue) there are people around who have cameras and iPhones up,” said Moreton, who doesn’t play tennis himself. “Sometimes you’ll see them pretending to swing a racquet or something like that, too.”
As Plighton kept walking around, she peered in through openings in the fencing. It was the only way she would get to view Centre Court or Henman Hill. She peered over hedges and attempted to see everything she could from the outside.
“I wish I could walk inside, but at least I’m here,” she said.
By Jack Meyer | BSU at the Games
Although the 2012 Olympics are coming to an end, tourists undoubtedly will still flock to London in great numbers to see all the city has to offer.
For the past few weeks, network televisions streams have been flooded with images of London’s most famous landmarks—Tower Bridge, the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace among others.
For travelers coming to London in the coming months and years, here is a list of attractions around the city that are lesser known but still more than worth a visit. Some of them might even help answer that classic tourist question, “Where do the locals hangout?”
1. The Churchill War Rooms
Entering the Churchill War Rooms, just a short walk from Westminster Abbey, visitors will be surprised at just how unchanged the tunnels truly are.
The bunker, which protected Winston Churchill and other top government officials from German air raids during World War II, has had minimal changes such as additional lighting and directional signs since it was closed off after the war ended in 1945.
In one dimly lit meeting room, a doodle drawn by an English diplomat or strategist during the war shows Adolf Hitler in the Atlantic marking the supposed location of German ships approaching the UK.
The maze of underground tunnels wind through meeting rooms, dining areas and temporary bedrooms from which Churchill directed the war.
The War Rooms won’t take a full day to see but can start to become pricey for large families at £16.50 ($25.89) for adults and £13.20 ($20.71) for students and seniors. Children under 16 enter free.
2. The Kernel
A beer lover’s trip to London can’t end without a trip to the Kernel Brewery’s back alley location just one Tube stop away from London Bridge Station.
The brewery sells its beer every Saturday no-nonsense style from the front of its nondescript warehouse brewery where small crowds can be found each week, sipping, laughing and stocking up on high-quality brew for the week ahead.
The Kernel likes to keep its batches small so when the week’s brew is sold out, visitors will have to wait a week for more. Only a select list of pubs in and around London sell the Kernel’s beer.
Check out the brewery website’s map of how to get to the Kernel on Saturdays, or it may get a bit tricky to find. It truly is hidden but well worth it.
3. Lucky Chip at Netil Market
For American tourists in London, Hackey’s Netil Market is home to one of the best burgers that will be found anywhere.
The Lucky Chip, owned and by operated by Australian Londoner Ben Denner, specializes in top-of-the-line burgers and even takes them a step further.
Denner has spent months developing and perfecting his recipes, which include many less traditional combinations like pineapple, barbecue sauce and onion rings, or duck, veal and liver.
Prices for a meal at the Lucky Chip start at about £6.50 ($10.02) for the “Clint Eastwood” veggie burger and classic cheese burger and stretch up to £16 ($25.11) for the “John Belushi,” which includes a list of more sophisticated toppings.
A quick search online will be enough to pinpoint Netil market on a map, or get off the Tube at Bethnal Green station and ask around for a bit of an adventure.
Brewdog‘s slogan, “beer for punks,” says it all. This Scottish brewer is focused on brewing and selling great craft beer regardless of what the masses are drinking, as the punk attitude would suggest.
The brewer’s mission statement of sorts says the brewers “were bored of the industrially brewed lagers and stuffy ales that dominated the U.K. market.”
Not being located on Camben Town’s main strip keeps the London pub somewhat clear of tourists who haven’t done their beer homework. But you’ll often find the pub filled to the brim with beer lovers.
The pub sells a selection of high-end ciders and the Brewdog’s signature beers—some accessible, like the company’s flagship Punk IPA and 5 a.m. Saint, and some more exotic, like Hardcore IPA and the Tokyo intergalactic fantastic oak-aged stout.
The company also makes limited-release brews like their Olympic brew, Nevermind the Anabolics, which was brewed with creatine.
Find directions to the company’s pubs as well as the spirit behind the slogan and the company’s beers at Brewdog.com.
5. Primrose Hill
There isn’t a better place to take a break or bid the city farewell than at the top of Primrose Hill.
On the city’s north side, the hill sits in Regent’s Park and gives visitors an unparalleled view of the city’s skyline. The park is filled day to day with mostly Londoners, picnicking, drinking, napping and just enjoying themselves.
Anne McCab, from England’s southern coast, said she has been to London hundreds of times in her life but had never made it to Primrose Hill until last week after volunteering during the Olympic Games.
“It’s a beautiful view because it’s such a wide sky and I’m used to seeing it from the other side of London,” McCab said. “It’s a secret, really, and it’s a secret for the people who live here I think. Once you come you’ll come again.”
The park is open at all hours of the night so visitors may want to make day and night trips to the area to really get the skyline’s full effect.
6. Portobello Market
One of London’s oldest markets is usually a hustle and bustle of locals pushing past visitors to stores and booths lining the street crowded with clothes, hats, glasses, souvenirs, and food from around the world.
But on weekdays, said a watch seller at one of the market’s permanent shops, business has been struggling because of the world recession and the Games, which have forced many Londoners to skip town.
“The Portobello Market is one of the most important markets in London and it’s the biggest,” said Sikner Altintas a Londer of six years who has spent three of those in the crowded Portobello shop.
The market is located on the city’s west side on Portobello Road not far from Ladbroke Grove Tube station.
Look for this market to begin to surge again once the economy picks up and things return to normal in London after the Games.
It takes about a half-day to get the full affect of Shoreditch’s artistic scale.
On one Wednesday afternoon, Adam Brazier of Graffiti Life, a London-based graffiti company, is painting a wall-sized mural with a colleague. Because the wall is in such a high-profile area for street art, Brazier is doing the piece as a non-for-profit job.
“In such a good location that a lot of people walk passed, we’ll do things just for the price of paint,” Brazier said. “This is kind of exposure for ourselves, so this is almost marketing for us.”
The wall Brazier is painting is on a corner already covered in graffiti. Just above where he is working, two decommissioned London Tube cars sit on the rooftops as an instillation. Across the street is a wall that has been painted for Oakley Sunglasses as advertising.
Have a walk around the Shoreditch area and all kinds of huge street posters and back-alley wall murals will jump out from all corners.
“Shoreditch and the Brick Lane area in London is just really known for its street art scene now, and it’s been really accepted by the council and the police,” Brazier said. “If you come to London and you want to see street art, you come here.”
Get off at Shoreditch High Street Overground station and have a look around.
Between the art-covered walls of Shoreditch High Street, Boxpark is a noticeably tidy corner amid the paint.
The property is made up of 20 or so shipping containers, each containing a different narrow store or restaurant, many of them high-end retailers.
Brands that can be found in Boxpark’s spaces include NIKE iD, DC Shoes, Levi’s, Vans, and many, many more. The park’s second floor is filled mostly with restaurant boxes where visitors can find frozen yogurt, Mexican, Thai and a number of others.
The stacks of containers are described by locals as a “pop-up mall.”
Again, to find Boxpark, visit its website at boxpark.co.uk or come out of Shoreditch High Street Overground station and ask around—someone will direct you.
9. Greenwich Royal Observatory
This observatory may be one of the most significant locations in or around London, being
the namesake of Greenwich Mean Time and lying directly on the prime meridian.
Visitors can tour the observatory’s museum to see how the creation of GMT and the prime meridian changed the world. When the observatory is open, tourists can be seen straddling the prime meridian, marked with a line in the building’s courtyard, and having their pictures taken with a foot in the eastern and western hemispheres.
Other attractions include the observatory’s astronomy center and planetarium.
For an extra bit of adventure, take the foot tunnel under the Thames beginning near the Island Gardens light rail station. The observatory is just a short walk from the tunnel’s exit.
Check for pricing on the observatory’s website.
10. White Chapel Bell Foundry
Britain’s oldest manufacturing company is a great place to stop for any history buff willing to plan ahead. Because of its popularity, tours of the White Chapel Bell Foundry are often sold out for months and sometimes a year in advance.
The company doesn’t do tours everyday because the foundry is still churning out bells regularly, including the bell used to open the London 2012 Olympic Games, which was the largest harmonically tuned bell in history, according to owner Kathryn Hughes.
“We were established in 1570,” Hughes said. “We’re also one of the only real working sort of factory-type places in London because nearly everybody else has left.”
The foundry has been in Hughes’ family for more than 100 years and has made a few other bells that visitors may be familiar with, including London’s Big Ben.
Those without a tour can still enter the small museum at the front of the foundry and see the template used to make Big Ben around the lobby’s front door.
Photos by Tyler Varnau.
Tyler Varnau is a junior journalism graphics major at Ball State University and photographer for BSU at the Games. Follow Tyler and the BSU team at @tvarnau, @bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.
By Charlotte Dunlap | BSU at the Games
Olympic fans waiting in line for the live screening of the Closing Ceremony at Victoria Park, London, share their favorite moments from London 2012.
By Emily Thompson | BSU at the Games
It would be unlike London to go out without a bang.
Although all of this year’s Olympic athletes had put their skills to the test by Sunday night, Victoria Park tried to recreate the energy of the Opening Ceremony. The park had the largest free screening of the Closing Ceremony in the city.
There seemed to be fewer spectators this time around – the lines leading up to the entrance didn’t snake around the entire park as for the Opening Ceremony. Instead, people picnicked outside before gathering their items to go through security.
Londoners Louise Roon and Kenneth Lamont finished their snacks on a blanket in the grass before heading into the park. They had hoped to come to Victoria Park for the Opening Ceremony, but their plans fell through.
“We hadn’t made it down [to the park], and I wanted to see it before [the Games were] over,” said Roon, who had attended Olympic sailing, hockey and triathlon events.
Inside the park, the night’s event could’ve been mistaken for those of a festival. In addition to the three large screens, the park featured a Ferris wheel, zip-line, food stands, bars and dance troupes. Even after the ceremony started, the “woos” from the people flying above the crowd on the zip-line continued through the night.
Olympic volunteer Ollie Bolderson waited in a long line for fish and chips. He had just finished his last shift working at the water polo arena in Olympic Park and was still wearing his purple and red volunteer shirt and official lanyard.
At 16, he’s the youngest age permitted to be a volunteer. He considers himself a “massive fan” of water polo.
“The whole atmosphere of the park is just amazing,” he said. “It’s such a great buzzing atmosphere. And [the other volunteers and I] get to see loads and loads of water polo, which we love. So I’ve really enjoyed it.”
In addition to seeing a lot of water polo, he said he also appreciated the various cultures the Games have brought to London.
“I like seeing all the orange of Holland and loads of Canadian fans and those Australians, crazy Australians, and Americans as well,” he said. “London’s pretty diverse anyway; it’s not like a huge difference. But it’s nice to see. This is the best of London you’ll see, ever. Everyone’s here, everyone’s happy. It’s great.”
In front of screen one, Londoner Charlene McKenna sat on a blanket in the grass with her sister, who was visiting from Ireland. McKenna was on vacation in Spain for the first eight days of the Olympic Games.
“I work very near the Olympic site, so it was on my mind that it was going to be quite hard to get around,” she said. “So I sort of planned it around that time, but I didn’t plan it around that time solely to get away from the Olympics. Because I quite missed being here for it when I was watching on TV. I’ve come to this today to sort of feel the atmosphere I’ve watched on TV.”
Although she only experienced London during the second half of the Games, she said she can tell it’s had a positive effect on the city as a whole.
“Everyone’s really happy in London, and because we’ve had such bad weather this summer, it’s been really good,” she said. “I think everyone’s really enjoying where we are in London now in comparison to this time last year when the riots were on. There’s a really good sense of community from British people. It doesn’t matter if you’re Welsh, or you’re Scottish, or you’re English. I think there’s a good sense of coming together for the Olympics.”
After several musical performances on the union flag stage, montages of athletes crying and plenty of cheers from the crowd, the night ended with perfect symmetry to the Opening Ceremony: fireworks lit up the shared sky over both Olympic Stadium and Victoria Park.
Emily Thompson is a senior magazine journalism major at Ball State University and features reporter for BSU at the Games. Follow Emily and the BSU team at @ekthompson2410, @bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.
By Jessica Pettengill | BSU at the Games
Sunday morning in London started as every morning for the past two weeks. Olympic athletes competed in their events. Spectators looked on in awe at the Olympic Park, Earl’s Court and other venues. And those not fortunate enough to watch the competitions in person cheered from the comfort of their homes. But this morning was the beginning of the end of the 2012 London Olympic Games.
The men’s marathon was one of the first events of the day, and the last free event open to the public. Fans lined up alongside the road from St. Paul’s Cathedral all the way to the finish line at Buckingham Palace. It might have been 10 a.m., a whole hour before the race even started, but the bystanders did not lack energy or enthusiasm to catch perhaps their last firsthand glimpse of Olympic athletes.
“Most people will probably never have an experience like this in their lifetime,” James Mason said, a London 2012 volunteer who worked on the marathon course, mere inches away from where the runners raced.
All of the Olympic events, not just the free ones, have changed the face of London. The British have lived with the impending Olympic Games for the past six years, starting with construction of the Olympic Park in May of 2008, despite the fact that the Olympic Games only last 14 days. But it’s not only the new buildings that have converted the city.
“There’s a running joke around here that everyone in London is so overly-friendly,” Jack Mercer, who works just outside Olympic Park, said. “It’ll be interesting to see if it lasts for good.”
The social and economic impacts of “mega-events” like the Olympic Games are heavily contested. The London 2012 initiative expected the Olympic Games to broaden opportunities in an already “diverse and vibrant city and country.” Before the start of competition, London 2012 also reported £7 billion in contracts generated by the Games and an expected £1 billion in sales on the UK high street.
“It makes me feel incredibly proud,” Mercer said. “London has definitely surpassed everyone’s expectations I think.”
Producing a strong Olympic atmosphere wasn’t the only proud moment for Britain in these Games either. In a matter of days, Team Great Britain rose through the medal count tank to finish third with 65 medals.
“Anyone feels proud when their team wins,” Angela McCandless said, a spectator at the men’s triathlon. “And really isn’t that the point? If there was no competition to win, then what’s the point of having the Olympics?”
It is winning moments that seem to stick best in the minds of fans. Mercer said his favorite memory was of Chris Hoy winning the gold medal for track cycling at the Velodrome. McCandless felt the greatest moment for Team GB happened when Alistair Brownlee walked across the men’s triathlon finish line to win the gold with the Union Jack wrapped around his shoulders, and then hugged his brother, Jonny, as he ran in to receive bronze.
Is the success of the London Olympic Games measured by the amount of medals Great Britain has received, or is it something more?
“I think there’s too much pressure for the athlete’s to win,” Richard Lockney said. The 48-year-old school teacher said even though being the best is desirable, it is the heart and determination that means more.
It probably helped that in the very last event of the 2012 Olympic Games, Samantha Murray of Great Britain won silver in the women’s modern pentathlon.
With the women’s pentathlon concluded, the competitions were officially over. The medals had been won and the count was winding down. All that was left was the Closing Ceremony.
Outside Olympic Park, all was quiet except for the distant cheers echoing through the streets, the low rumble of the trains and the sounds of Closing Ceremony announcers coming from the small Railway Hotel & Pub.
Over the pub’s speaker system, announcer Hazel Irvine stated, “It’s amazing to think that only 16 years ago Great Britain won one gold medal.”
“You can just sense the passion and pride across London and the entire country,” Darren O’Reilly said, a frequenter of Railway Pub and a native of London.
O’Reilly had been in Olympic Park for the Opening Ceremony and said there were two completely different atmospheres.
“The Opening Ceremonies were sort of uneasy because we didn’t know how successful it was going to be,” he said.
Discussions of the “London Olympic legacy” ride on the sunset of the Olympic Games. On the London 2012 website, there is an entire page dedicated to the Games’ legacy, in youth, sports, workforce, infrastructure and diversity.
“It’s not over for me,” Barbara Wellmen said, speaking both literally and figuratively. Wellmen decided to volunteer for both the Olympic and Paralympic Games during her nine-year retirement.
“This is something no one will forget soon,” she added. “It may seem egotistic, but this has been something really special.”
It’s hard to argue with slogans like the “social Olympics,” “regeneration Olympics” and “inspire a generation.”
Just before the explosive finale of the Closing Ceremony fireworks, O’Reilly summarized the atmosphere of Railway Pub.
“I really believe that we are leaving a legacy.”
Jessica Pettengill is a junior magazine journalism major at Ball State University and features reporter for BSU at the Games. Follow Jessica and the BSU team at @jmpetty10, @bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.
By Jack Meyer | BSU at the Games
On a busy evening at Sebright Arms in Hackney on London’s east side, Ben Denner, an Australian-Londoner, walks into the pub’s small kitchen to see the final burgers of the night sizzling on the grill.
The burgers, the Tom Selleck with cheese, pineapple, barbecue sauce and an onion ring, and the Kevin Bacon with cheese and, of course, bacon, made their way to the table of Fiona Woodcock and Emily Henderson, new London residents who’d come to the pub for their second time.
“They stand out,” Henderson said as Denner’s girlfriend Jody came to cut the burgers so the girls could share. “They just taste different from normal burgers.”
Denner and his company, The Lucky Chip, have been in a flurry of growth the past few months working to open a new restaurant selling slider-style burgers in London’s soho district and designing a burger for Coca-cola, which Denner said will be sold at a closing party for this year’s athletes at Olympic Stadium.
“It’s a Coca-Cola-raspberry and chipotle barbecue sauce with beef patty, bacon, American cheese and seeded bun,” Denner said.
Last week Denner said he was preparing to make thousands of the burgers, which Coca-Cola requested be based on the drink, to serve at the event.
The perfect burger
On any given evening, the dim dining and drinking rooms of Sebright Arms are filled with dinners, generally between 20 and 40, munching on one of Denner’s ten burgers on the menu. He rotates certain burgers on and off the menu periodically.
One burger, priced at £16 ($25.10) includes more sophisticated toppings like duck, a veal and marrow patty with foie gras (liver), truffle aioli and pedro ximenez.
But the menu is also filled with the expected cheese, double cheese and bacon burgers as well as other less familiar combinations starting at £6.50 ($10.20.)
“We were going to do a menu of just different French fries from around the world with different sauces on them,” Denner said. “Then we started playing around with burgers and having loads of fun with that and one burger all of a sudden become five burgers and then we had a menu of ten burgers.”
Some of the burger’s, Denner said, took months to perfect, others he has been working on for the last year.
The El Chappo, a beef patty topped with bacon, blue cheese, roast jalapeños and a garlic mayo aioli was the menu’s first burger and took about a month to create.
“Normally we find one ingredient that we want to work with and then find things that compliment that,” Denner said. “For example with the El Chappo, we tried to find something that went with [the blue cheese.] We very quickly discovered that jalapeños go with that and aioli.”
Denner spent just as long working to perfect his burgers as finding the right places to source the ingredients for them. He said he tried a number of different bakers before finding the perfect buns, which are steamed before making it to their burgers.
“It’s the most important thing for us that we source our ingredients from the best possible place we can,” Denner said. “Our butcher is a 200-year-old butcher out in the country who drives 70 miles down here every day to drop everything off.”
Denner said he has tried to source as much of his supplies from around London but some ingredients, like jalapeños, have to come from elsewhere.
The Lucky Chip began more than a year ago selling burgers out of the company’s food truck in the parking lot of a London church. It then moved the truck to Hackney’s Netil Market not far from Sebright Arms where it began selling a few months later.
Since then, the amount of burgers the Lucky Chip sells has increased many times over but Denner won’t say by exactly how much.
“I don’t really want people to know. I like it to be a bit of mystery,” Denner said. “First when we were open we’d do 30 a night and we were like, ‘this is full on’ and we were kind of stumbling around like ‘what do we do?’”
This week, the Lucky Chip opened up shop with a new restaurant called Slider Bar in London’s soho, an area near the city’s center filled with bars and restaurants.
“The appetizer section, which is the first part of the menu, is designed around fun and fast food stuff but with our twists and plays on it,” Denner said. “And you’ve got essentially what would be the main courses, which is sliders. And then we’ve got our desserts, which are all ice cream based desserts.”
The restaurant’s sliders will be based on the menu that is sold at Sebright Arms but with a few new burgers in place of a few regulars from the pub.
Denner plans to start things slow at Slider Bar due to fears of getting too busy too early and, if things continue to go well, open a drive-thru.
“I’m stoked, I’m really excited about the future, we’ve got some big plans,” Denner said. “It’s what I see myself doing for the rest of my life now.”
By Jessica Pettengill | BSU at the Games
With many of the most famous Olympic athletes like Michael Phelps and Gabby Douglas having collected their gold medals, the Olympic Games could seem all but over to some.
But many of the lesser known Olympic events occur in the last two days. Race walking and half of the modern pentathlon were scheduled for today and tomorrow. Even if the coverage is minimal, what is it about these sports that keep fans coming back for more?
“It’s just hilarious to watch them,” Jennifer Hearn of London said, a spectator at the women’s race walk. “Hilarious but awesome. I would never be able to do this.”
The liquid-like fluidity of the racers’ strides and the incessant pumping of their arms allow the top contending racewalkers to reach speeds of almost 9 miles per hour.
“Sometimes I don’t know how some sports get into the Olympics,” Hearn added.
Many spectators were unaware of some of the lesser-known sports like modern pentathlon. It is one of the most eclectic events at the Olympic Games. It requires its athletes to compete in fencing, swimming, equestrian riding and a combined event of running and archery.
After researching the event on his iPhone, fellow women’s marathon bystander Nathan Moore said, “How do people even get into these kinds of [sports]?”
Many of these obscure sports have only been included in the Olympic Games for a fraction of what the more popular events have been. The most recently added were BMX, in 2008, and women’s wrestling, the newest addition to the 2012 Olympic Games. Conversely, baseball and softball were the most recently removed sports from the Olympic lineup after the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
The Olympic Programme Commission (OPC) has official say over which 26 sports fill the Olympic venues each year. Golf and rugby have been approved for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
“International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge entrusted the Olympic Programme Commission with the mission to define… a process for reviewing the Olympic programme,” wrote the IOC in a detailed fact sheet released to explain the many changes occurring to the Olympic Games.
“Might as well throw in skateboarding while you’re at it,” Moore said. “Add something that will entertain everyone.”
“Roller sports” actually was one of the sports considered to add to the 2012 Olympic Games. It didn’t get the 2/3 final vote needed, but it could be a strong possibility in a future Olympic venue. The criteria the OPC reviews sports on depends on history and tradition, universality, popularity, image, athletes’ health, development of the International Federations and cost.
“I’d like to watch jump roping or waterskiing or something completely weird,” Hearn said.
Perhaps future Olympic Games will continue to see the addition of “weirder” sports.
Jessica Pettengill is a junior magazine journalism major at Ball State University and features reporter for BSU at the Games. Follow Jessica and the BSU team at @jmpetty10, @bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.
By Tyler Poslosky | BSU at the Games
U.S. quadruple sculls rowers Elliot Hovey, Peter Graves, Alex Osborne and Wes Plermarini sprinted out of the blocks with the rest of the boats during the repechage heat.
They were right there alongside New Zealand, Italy and Switzerland when disaster struck 350 meters into the first leg of the race.
Permarini, a four-year veteran rower and 2008 Olympian, was positioned at the front when the blade of his oar suddenly became lodged in the water, bringing the boat to dead stop.
“We had a great start; we were right with the field, right where we wanted to be, and then I got a massive boat-stopping crab,” Permarini said in a press release.
Not an animal crab. Permarini was talking about a stroke that simply gets caught under the water.
The delay put the U.S. a length and a half behind the rest of the field. Without hesitating, the four rowers restarted the race and charged after the teams in front of them.
Their adrenaline pushed them back into contention, sprinting with every last bit of energy they had at a rate of more than 40 strokes per minute.
Suddenly, the gap began to narrow.
The four men rowed the second fastest 500-meter sprint on the second quarter and the fastest split in the third quarter to pull within an inch of the Swiss with the finish line on the horizon.
They continued to dig their oars harder and deeper into the water. Faster and faster they went. Their arms were throbbing, but they had to press on.
Despite giving it everything they had, their last-second efforts weren’t enough to overpower the rest of the field.
For Piermarini, Osborne, Graves and Hovey, their Olympic dream came to a halt. They finished fourth with a time of 5:45.62 behind Switzerland, who crossed the line at 5:44.90. New Zealand won the race in 5:43.82, followed by Italy in 5:44.57.
For what seemed like hours, three of the men sat in their boat stunned, while Hovey’s face was buried in his hands.
Years of training for this one race, and not the outcome the group had hoped for.
“Right there, we had the opportunity to role over and die and we said absolutely not, not today,” Hovey said in a press release. “You guys are not getting off easy, and we’re going to come and get it. And that’s exactly what we did.
“We did a start again, and it came naturally. Everyone was on the same page. We were catching it. We could taste it. It got a little ragged at the end, but we went for it and we just fell short.
“I couldn’t be more pleased with the crew and the performance that was done by the guys around me and I would not have chosen to row with another group of guys, and I mean that sincerely.”
The agony of falling short of their goal didn’t strike Osborne until minutes after the race ended.
“It kind of hit me,” Osborne said in a press release. “The regatta is over for us and it’s a terrible feeling. You cross the line and aside from the pain in my legs and forearms, I was overcome with just a pit in my stomach that we were done racing. It’s really tough because we worked so hard for each other. We wanted to keep going, but I’m proud of the way we competed in the end.”
Tyler Poslosky is a senior journalism news major at Ball State University covering sports for BSU at the Games. Follow Tyler and the BSU team at @tylerposlosky, @bsuatthegames andwww.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.