London Bits - Games Related Odds and Ends
July 26, 2012
Thursday, July 26, 2012
Daughter of 1976 Olympic Rowers Will Carry the Flag
There has never been a rower selected to carry the U.S. flag into the Opening Ceremony of an Olympic Games, but Wednesday, U.S. fencer Mariel Zagunis, the daughter of two Olympic rowers, was chosen for the honor by a vote of the members of Team USA.
Zagunis, whose parents Kathy and Robert both rowed for the U.S. in the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, Canada, won the first gold medal in 100 years in the sport for the United States in Athens and then repeated in Beijing.
"I'm extremely humbled by this incredible privilege," said Zagunis. "As an athlete, I can't imagine a higher honor than to lead Team USA into the Olympic Games, which are the pinnacle of sport and a platform for world peace. I am tremendously proud to represent my sport, our team and, most importantly, the United States of America."
The opening of the 2012 London Olympic Games is still a day away, but the Olympics is dominating the news here in London and not all of it is about who won and who lost. Some of the items in the British press are about traffic, empty seats, flag blunders, and a soccer snub.
On the first day of competition for women’s soccer, the North Korean women and coaches briefly refused to take the field for their match against Columbia when the South Korean flag was displayed on the big screen in Hampden Park in Glasgow next to the lineup of the North Korean players. They were eventually convinced to take the field following a bevy of official and public apologies, and then proceeded to win 2-0.
In other soccer news, some 10,000 fans who purchased tickets for the opening game of Team GB’s women’s soccer team failed to show up. It might be that women’s “football” is not held is the same esteem as men’s “football” in the United Kingdom, then again it could be the ongoing confusion about where non-Olympic vehicles can and cannot drive. Motorists sat in traffic for more than an hour to get into London Wednesday, even though the 109 miles of dedicated Olympic lanes were not being used because the Games haven’t really begun.
Officials opened the lanes to help ease the pain, but just for the day. Drivers without passes caught in those lanes beginning tomorrow will face fines of up to 130 pounds.
Keeping with soccer outrages, British star Gareth Bale made headlines after playing a game in the United States for the Los Angeles Galaxy and scoring a goal. It was considered bad after he declined to play for Team GB because of a bad back. There is talk of banning him from playing for his home pitch club, Tottenham, during the Games.
Swarms of Flying Ants!
None have been spotted near the Eton Dorney Olympic rowing venue 33 miles from London, but once every summer when the rain stops falling on the United Kingdom and the weather turns warmer, British Ants get – well – antsy.
As the Times of London put it this morning:
“Flying Ants tend to visit a city but once a year. It is the day on which the queen of the black garden ants emerges from the nest to begin her nuptial flight. During this flight, virgin queens mate with males (yes, during the flight) and those happy couples that escape the predatory attention of the birds start up a new colony when they land.”
The paper goes on to say, “As ants have not yet, as far as we know, developed social media, they communicate by having the same response to humidity, temperature and the speed of the wind. Hence the sudden emergence of what seems like the whole ant populace.” Oldest Sporting Event in London, or So It’s Been Said
Rowing may not have begun yet here in London but there was one race of note already contested. Read this story in the New York Times; http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/25/sports/olympics/on-the-thames-a-small-rowing-race-with-a-long-history.html?emc=eta1 And Finally, The Picture of the Day
So what exactly is the speed limit?