Posts tagged "Hyde Park"

London through a local’s eyes

By Charlotte Dunlap  |  BSU at the Games

Jolting his hands up in the air simultaneously to the beats of the song, 21-year-old Fred Smiley was noticeably enjoying the concert at Hyde Park.

His trendy mohawk haircut matched the rest of his get-up—light gray straight-leg jeans with a snap-back hat attached to a belt loop, a blue zip-up and a neon-blue Adidas backpack.

In my eyes, Fred seemed to be a typical 21-year-old guy from London taking advantage of what the Olympic Games has brought to his hometown.

As much as Americans are intrigued with the British accent, I have come to find out that our American accent is just as if not more intriguing to people in Europe. Like any tourist would do, I asked the name of the band and after that one question, the routine “Are you from the States?” question started up a conversation that I found myself excited to be in.

Fred was down-to-earth, humble and outgoing. He seemed to be “in the know” about everything going on in London. So I took advantage of making a new friend and invited myself along to see London through his eyes for an afternoon.

12:20 p.m.

Fred rushed from the Oxford tube station to the nearest corner café, weaving his way in and out between the mash-up of people.  Fred had mastered the art of turning the body 90 degrees to slide in between oblivious passers-by on the street. Now living in Essex, Oxford Circus is a place he visits only when need be.

12:35 p.m.

Deciding on where the day’s meal would take place, Caribbean Bay was his decision. One would think the chosen spot would be Café Fred, located nearby, but Caribbean food was on the menu for lunch.

1 p.m.

Silverware = cutlery, Fred said.

1:05 p.m.

Precisely explaining the components of the jerk chicken meal, Fred opened his grape soda and started into his meal. “London is a much more lively place to live,” he said. “I moved to Essex a few years ago and I like being able to come to London whenever I want. It’s a short trip”.

1:20 p.m.

“O.M.G.” Fred said. He paused for what felt like an hour. “I swallowed the bone,” he said. Coughing repeatedly, Fred guzzled his grape soda, anxiously trying to get the chicken bone that he swallowed to slide down his throat.

1:26 p.m.

Fred sighed with relief that the chicken bone finally passed through his throat. “You know, American girls have a glow about them,” Fred said. “You can kind of tell who’s from America and who’s not.”

1:40 p.m.

Strapping on his neon-blue Adidas backpack, Fred made his way to the door and took a left down the street. “See, I only go shopping when I need something. … I am in and I am out,” he said.

2 p.m.

Strutting into Niketown, Fred was shocked at the amount of people shopping. “Honestly I have never seen this place so full … The Olympics have done so much good for all these places. It has brought in so much money,” Fred said.

2:30 p.m.

Fred was patient with the hectic sidewalks slammed with people as he went in and out of different shops, mostly shoe stores. “It is nice to come to this area when I want and not live here. The Tube is only a short distance from Essex,” he said.

2:45 p.m.

Kindly taking a bottle of water that was being passed out on the sidewalks, Fred remembered he had obligations outside of town. “I have to go pick up a car that I am using for a week,” he said. “Most of us don’t have cars around here, its pointless. Insurance is outrageous for us at this age to drive.”

3 p.m.

Sharing a few last words, it was obvious Fred’s personality not only blasted through his style, his gestures and his laugh, but also through his genuine aura. “I am traveling to L.A. for a month here in a few weeks. I know it’s where I have to go to make something of my passion for acting,” Fred said.

3:10 p.m.

Without seconding-guessing himself, Fred smiled and was on his way, blending right in with the rest of the rushing crowd toward the Tube station. “Good luck in London!” he yelled.

Charlotte Dunlap is a senior telecommunications major at Ball State University and features reporter for BSU at the Games. Follow Emily and the BSU team at @charr_mariee@bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.

Spectators take a break from Olympic sports for Temper Trap concert at Hyde Park

By Emily Thompson  |  BSU at the Games

The Temper Trap concert entertains fans at Hyde Park, London.

Although the London 2012 Olympic Games are winding down, the fun at Hyde Park has not subsided. Everyday throughout the Games, “BT London Live” has featured Olympic events on huge screens around the park, bands playing throughout the day and a wide variety of food trucks.

Friday night, Australian indie-rock band Temper Trap performed. Immediately following an Olympic sailing event on the screen above the main stage, the announcer for the concert brought out the band.

Spectators who had been there all day, as well as those who had just come for the concert, cheered for the five band members, who started with “Love Lost”. Temper Trap put on a fun, passionate show, complete with tambourines.

The concert was free, but there was a ticketed area closer to the stage. Directly behind it, Londonders and visitors from all over the world stood or sat on blankets in the wood chips. For the duration of the concert, the competitive sports atmosphere surrounding the Games resembled a summer outdoor music festival.

Annabelle Francis had come to Hyde Park to watch athletics, taekwondo and boxing on the big screens and had no idea there was going to be a free Temper Trap concert. She was excited to find out, though.

“I do love their music,” she said. “It’s just easy listening; it’s quite feel-good.”

Although some Brits have been less than thrilled about the hectic state of London these past three weeks, Francis is not one of them.

“I love it,” she said. “It’s been awesome. It’s been great to be part of the atmosphere. Even in Hyde Park, it’s just great to see everyone supporting [Team] GB, everybody and their flags.”

On the other side of the stage, a group of four friends, three from Canada and one from Switzerland, had come to Hyde Park specifically to see Temper Trap.

“Temper Trap set the perfect mood of the day,” Jeffrey Cox said. “It was a good daytime vibe.”

Cox and two others are staying with Krista Pike, who is currently living and teaching in London. Although the band only played five songs, she said she really enjoyed the “smooth and mellow” sound of the band and overall atmosphere of the park.

The group only had one complaint.

“We’d like for there to be more entrances,” Cox said. “It seems like there’s 65 exits and only one entrance. That could be improved upon.”

And as Temper Trap closed its set, the lead singer left the stage saying, “Enjoy the Olympics. Make some more friends.”

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.

The face of the Olympic fan: Diversity and sense of fun characterize Hyde Park viewing areas

By Lindsey Gelwicks  |  BSU at the Games

The atmosphere at Hyde Park depends on two things: the teams playing that day and the weather.

When it rains, the park is nearly empty. Small groups of people are scattered in front of the big screens broadcasting events live and for free for the general public.

Though many are intent on watching the Games, some come to enjoy the atmosphere. A young man juggling five stackable cups of beer meanders through the small crowd. On top of a blanket covering the wood-chip-covered ground, a teenage boy sleeps with his head resting on a backpack.

But when the sun finally shows itself, Hyde Park changes.  Swarms of people elbow their way through crowds to food vendors or games set up for children. Pathways that existed days prior disappear as fans sit in any inch of space available.

But no matter what the weather, fans from nations across the globe congregate to cheer on their own in the Olympic Games.

ENGLAND

Mark Griffiths of England displays his pride for Team GB on his face.

Jean Baguley sat engulfed in national pride on a folding camp chair in front of Screen 1. Images of the Union Jack surrounded her, from the hat atop her head of white hair to the blanket on the ground where her daughter Lynne Wood sat. Like many in the park, Baguley had the British flag wrapped around her shoulders.

“Come on. Come on. Come on!” Baguley yelled, pounding her fist on her thigh in excitement, as Team GB struggled to keep the lead against Germany in the men’s eight rowing event.

“It makes such a difference,” said Wood, a London native. “In London, you feel more a part of it.”

While they could have watched the Games in the comfort of their own home, the pair went to Hyde Park despite the rain sprinkling down that morning. For Baguley, the atmosphere drew her in.

“It’s all of these people of all nationalities in one place,” she said.

GERMANY

The gold, red and black of the German flag wrapped around Daniel Stampmik’s shoulders stood out amid the red, white and blue of the British fans.

Stampmik came to the Olympic Games with his parents and sister. The sports fanatics were some of those fortunate to get tickets to live events.

The football match in Wembley Stadium was the highlight of his trip so far, he said, describing the excitement of being in the full stands.

“You’re part of the Olympics,” he said. “You can feel it.”

As Judith Ardnt pedaled down the ramp to start her time trial, Stampmik’s father raised his noisemaker above his head and twirled it around in support of the German cyclist.

NORTH AMERICA

Although Carolyn Graves and Wendy Kordesch were from different countries, the pair came together to Hyde Park to watch the Games. The Canadian and American, respectively, had been working on their oceanography doctorates in Southampton.

“You couldn’t have [the Olympic Games] so close and not go,” Graves said.

With tickets to the indoor volleyball game that night, the women killed time by lounging at Hyde Park.

SWEDEN

It hadn’t been the easiest day for Thomas Eddom, Ulrika Ronnermark and Monne Naesenius. The three ordered judo tickets through a website at home but discovered earlier that day that the vendor was unauthorized.

On top of that, the athlete they were rooting for, Sweden’s Marcus Nyman, lost his match early in the rounds.

Despite those disappointments, the three were making the most of their day as they sat around a picnic table, each nursing a beer. As coaches for youth judo teams, they enjoyed watching judo no matter who was sparring.

The park also gave them a chance to scope out others from their country. They just had to look for the bright blue and yellow of their nation’s flag.

NETHERLANDS

While most at Hyde Park chose to represent their countries through t-shirts or flags around their necks, Sjoerd Munnih and Franh van Sihhelerus took a different approach. Each sported a bold orange suit.

Although the Dutch flag is red, white and blue, orange represents the royal family and is used for sports jerseys.

Munnih had hoped that the suits would bring his team luck.

“It doesn’t work today, though, because we’re losing everything,” he said on his way to grab a beer.

CANADA

A group of Canadian super fans gather for a photo at Hyde Park, London.

With national spirit overflowing at Hyde Park, it’s easy for those from the same country to spot each other, just like Canadians Brad Watt and Megan Williams did with a group who called themselves “the Eh! Team.”

Although they wouldn’t normally have gotten along with someone from the other side of the country, Williams said, the Olympic Games were an exception.

“The Olympics generates a national pride you might not otherwise have,” she said.

The pair was in Vancouver for the winter 2010 Olympic Games and took advantage of family living in London to see the event again. Missing it wasn’t an option.

They arrived with more creativity than concrete plans. Days before, they traded a pair of Canadian sunglass with a Danish couple for tickets to rowing.

A young fan of Mexico.

MEXICO

Stationed in front of Screen 1, Maria Uribe and David Carpy intently watched as Mexico played Senegal in the men’s football quarterfinals. Carpy said he knew Mexico wasn’t decent at the Games, but he was confident they would win that day.

On the other side of the crowd, Susan Gonzalez watched the game with her brother. Each wore a sombrero in support of their country.

Although Gonzalez had lived in London for 13 years, she said it wasn’t difficult choosing which team to support.

“I’m Mexican 100 percent,” she said.

Thirty minutes later, when the game switched over to Screen 5, the two groups followed.

As Mexico scored their third goal of the game, Gonzalez whipped her sombrero off her head, tossed it to the ground and danced around it as the crowd around her erupted in cheers.

Lindsey Gelwicks is a senior magazine journalism major at Ball State University and features reporter for BSU at the Games. Follow Lindsey and the BSU team at @lbgelwicks@bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.

I got more exercise than expected while watching the women’s triathlon

For a second while I was watching the Olympic women’s triathlon, I thought I was in a race myself.

As my group of BSU at the Games members stood around Serpentine Lake, surrounded by thousands of people watching the triathletes furiously swim in front of us, some fans around us began to turn around. They started pushing through the massive crowd of people until they reached a clearing, and then it was a full-on sprint to the other side of Hyde Park.

Jonathan Batuello, one of our group members, was among those hurrying away from the lake even though the swimming portion wasn’t over. I hurried after him, but he ran so fast from the crowd I lost track of him.

At that point, it didn’t take long to figure out what everyone was running toward.

As the triathletes pulled themselves out of the water and onto their bikes, fans were racing over to the cycling track to get the best possible view of the next portion of the race.

It was funny to see how the rows of people next to the street worked itself out. Those who ran fast enough and knew they had to leave the swimming portion early earned the ultimate prize of getting great photos. Those of us who didn’t had to deal with photos that had heads and cameras in the way of the shot.

Our group learned from the first run through the park and made it over to the running track after the cycling was halfway finished. No running was necessary this time, and after a half hour of waiting, we were able to get a decent view of the triathletes sprinting by us.

For the first Olympic sport I’ve ever seen in-person, the women’s triathlon is memorable just for getting me out of a seat. That’s not something I’m used to as a football and basketball fan.

Still, the next time I sit down to comfortably watch a sport with a hot dog in one hand and a drink in the other, I know I won’t take it for granted.

Andrew Mishler  |  Sports Reporter

@andrewmishler

You don’t need tickets to watch the Games in good company

With no tickets to an Olympic event or even to the Olympic Park, I assumed that I would just be watching the Games from the comfort of my own flat. Well, you know what they say about those who assume… I was wrong.

Many parks in downtown London are projecting the Olympic events on multiple 20-foot screens, Hyde Park included. They are airing the same BBC channels that I could watch in my flat, but somehow being outside with a crowd full of spirited fans makes watching Olympic television that much better.

On a typical Tuesday afternoon in London, if any day during the Olympic Games could be considered typical, I ventured out in hopes to watch women’s gymnastics in the park. Seeing that I was accompanied by one of BSU at the Game’s videographers, who had brought along a large camera, I began to get nervous that we would not be allowed inside the gates.

We finally had reached the security officer at the bag check. A bottle of water was thrown away, a shopping bag searched, a laptop scanned and then there was the camera. The officer eyed it for a moment, causing Charlotte and I to hold our breath, and then placed it back into her bag, giving us the OK to enter.

After grabbing a cider and finding seats on the mulched lawn amongst the crowd, our hopes to watch women’s gymnastics were gratified. About half an hour had passed when a man walked on the stage with a microphone. Hyde Park has been hosting concerts every night since the Opening Ceremony and will continue until the Closing Ceremony on Aug. 12.

On Tuesday, Rebecca Ferguson, followed by Cover Drive, performed on the main stage. Rebecca, with a sound similar to Adele’s, won the crowd over with her soothing love tunes. Cover Drive sang more upbeat and energetic melodies. Not recognizing either performer, I was hesitant during their first few songs. I quickly learned to “never judge a band by their first song,” as Cover Drive has become one of my favorite groups.

It was the perfect evening under the stars—enjoying live music and watching the Olympic Games. What more could two girls have asked for?

Needless to say, if you need to find Charlotte and me in the early night, chances are we will be having another perfect evening in Hyde Park.

Samantha Ashworth | Public Relations

Women’s triathlon medal hopes ride on three athletes in field of 56

By Andrew Mishler  |  BSU at the Games

As 26-year old Gwen Jorgensen awakes tomorrow to compete in her first Olympic triathlon, the situation shouldn’t feel too unfamiliar to her. She’s been here before.

Once Jorgensen takes her mark to race for the gold medal, it will have been 363 days since she took second place in the World Championship Series Triathlon, also positioned in London. Her finish qualified her for the triathlon she is hours away from competing in.

Prior success in the same city hasn’t let the youngest United States triathlon athlete become overconfident about her chances in the Olympic Games. With 55 other world-class athletes around Jorgensen ready to swim, bike and run toward a first-place finish, she knows the stage and stakes aren’t the same as before.

“Every race is completely different,” Jorgensen said last week in a news release. “You have different people out there. I know that this race is going to be hard, and it’s going to go from the beginning, and I just have to be prepared to hurt a lot.”

Long before she qualified last year to compete in the Olympic event, Jorgensen was trained to one day be an Olympic athlete.  She said her coach pushed her into thinking she would one day have a chance at competing at this level.

But even a year to digest the fact she was officially an Olympian wasn’t enough time for Jorgensen.

“When I got recruited into triathlon, they told me the Olympics were in the picture and that I could definitely do it,” she said. “My coach always believed in me. I don’t think I fully believed that 2012 was realistic. After I qualified, I was like, ‘What? Really?’ It didn’t really sink in. I think it actually sunk in once I got to the Olympic Village. I was like, ‘Wow. I’m really here.’”

Fellow U.S. competitors Laura Bennett and Sarah Groff join Jorgensen in the 51.5-kilometer race. The U.S. reached the quota of three possible competition athletes based on qualifying triathlons prior to the Olympic Games.

The event starts at 9 a.m. at Hyde Park. Each athlete swims 1,500 meters of Serpentine Lake, bikes 40 kilometers through the London streets and runs 10 kilometers around Hyde Park to the finish line.

“When it comes down to it, it’s just going to be about who is ready on August 4,” she said. “It’s going to be a tough race no matter what, and we’re all prepared for that.”

Andrew Mishler is a senior telecommunications and journalism news major at Ball State University covering sports for BSU at the Games. Follow Andrew and the BSU team at @andrewmishler@bsuatthegames andwww.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.

Photo of the day: Women’s cycling in Hyde Park

Women’s cycling fans cheer on their favorite teams outside of Buckingham Palace July 29 as the 140km race begins. See our full gallery on WTHR’s website.

Photo by Tyler Varnau.