Saturday, March 2, 2024

London Diary

London Olympic 2012
London Diary
After we reported yesterday that luminaries as diverse and impressive as Dmitri Medvedev (RUS), Kobe Bryant (USA) and Prince Albert of Monaco had been among the glitterati gracing the stands at these games, the celeb-sightings poured in from other sports, determined not to be outdone.
One breathless snowboarding fan of our acquaintance reported that two-time snowboard halfpipe Olympic champion Shaun White (USA) was spotted at the Aquatics Centre, as well as Israeli swimsuit model Bar Refaeli.
“Mind you, we weren’t that impressed,” admitted one regular at the swimming events. “With the president of France, Francois Hollande, Michelle Obama, Mitt Romney, Her Majesty The Queen of Great Britain and the British prime minister David Cameron popping by in recent days, we didn’t really pay attention to Leonard di Caprio’s ex.”
Canoe slalom fans at the Lee Valley White Water Centre were boasting about rubbing shoulders not only with the seemingly omnipresent LOCOG chair Seb Coe but also with former England rugby coach Sir Clive Woodward, the president of Slovakia and Prince Richard, the Duke of Gloucester.
The boxing has not exactly been jam-packed with the great and the good, but a man who might be distantly related to the Marquis of Queensberry himself showed up recently; none other than Prince Phillip, who joined Prince Edward (the Earl of Wessex) and his wife Sophie watching a bout between an Indian and Kazakh fighter.
Royal couple Kate and Wills were on the edge of their seats in the Velodrome for Friday’s cycling, while at Eton Dorney, they have been boasting of visits from Cameron and the Princess Royal.
At the judo events, meanwhile, they had the chance to gawp at Russian president Vladimir Putin as well as Cameron and Hollande. That’s a potential European superpower summit right there, isn’t it?
It is not all champagne and caviar for the celebrities at these games, mind. Comedian Dara O’briain made a surreal pairing a few blocks down from German football legend Lothar Matthaus (“I support all German teams”, Matthaus explained in between shouting loudly for his countrymen) at the volleyball yesterday, but the Irishman clearly missed a trick as he was stuck in the cheap seats.
“Is there a VIP section?” he said. “Oh, I see. So I guess these seats are in the middle-ranking TV comedian section, right?”
He also revealed the perils of tweeting about his activities.
“I’ve been mentioning I’m at the volleyball, and I’m bombarded by tweets saying ‘You pervert!’ So I have to explain, ‘no, not at the beach volleyball, the normal volleyball. I’m actually off to the beach volleyball, too, but I hasten to add, I have ticket for the Men’s event.”
All smiling volunteers
When the first staff first arrived at the Park several weeks ago, many Londoners among them commented on the friendliness and cheery, irrepressible mood of the volunteers.
“Don’t they know this is London?” some cynics quipped. “You’re not supposed to actually smile in public, and say ‘good morning’ to complete strangers. People will think they are weird…” Some also voiced the opinion that the cheeriness would wear off once the Games started and the stress began to show.
Not a bit of it. In fact, it seems there is nothing that can wipe the smiles off the faces of these tireless servants of the Games.
The London Eye on Thursday witnessed a couple of volunteers given the most unenviable of tasks to clean up the large, foul-smelling deposits left behind by a couple of police horses on the main concourse.
Naturally, they took to their task with a good humour and stoicism that made some onlookers question whether someone had slipped something into their soft drink bottles. But no, it seems they are simply high on the Olympic spirit.

-With The Daily Star input

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