At the start of Day 14, we didn’t even have tickets to the Bronze Medal Women’s Basketball match between Australia’s Opals and Russia. But the day just kept getting better and better and by the end of it we had experienced one of the most amazing days of our lives!
We strolled down to Buckingham Palace (again!!) around lunch-time, to catch the finishing stages of the 50 kilometre walk. Our Aussie Jarad Tarrent took the silver behind a Russian dude. Our plan was to head out to the North Greenwich Arena in the mid-afternoon to try and buy basketball tickets from a tout. The game was sold out but we were hopeful someone from a country not playing may want to sell.
Imagine our surprise when a Brazilian couple approached us as we were walking back to the hotel. They held a sign saying ‘Tickets: Bronze Medal Basketball.’ I thought they WANTED tickets, but they were selling them at face value. We had to walk to an ATM to get more money but by the end of our stroll we were already being invited to Rio 2016!
At the stadium we enjoyed a tense battle between the Aussies and the Russians. Lauren Jackson and Kristy Harrower starred for the Opals. After three consecutive silvers, all losses to the USA, the Aussies finally won a game to win a medal. Well done Opals.
Jenny and I were up in Level 4 of the massive stadium. At the end of the game, as the spectators poured out, we rushed down to Level 1 to try and get close to the girls as they celebrated. We waltzed straight in and went right down near the court. We found ourselves in amongst all the green and gold: the family, friends and support staff of the players.
The next thing we knew the Aussie medallists were filing past and giving high fives and hugs to all the Aussies on the rails. Sometimes you’ve just gotta be in the right place at the right time! Then, amazingly, we were given a card by one of the team managers, inviting us to the After Party for the Australian Basketballers and Hockey players.
…………But it got better! …….
While we were at a sports bar in the massive O2 complex, sharing a drink with family, friends and support staff, all the Opals arrived! Meanwhile the Gold Medal match between France and USA had started and was being telecast on several big screens. The Aussies had to stick around for the medal presentation, but nobody seemed in much of a hurry to go back to the stadium.
Soon later we were given free tickets to the Gold Medal game, best seats in the stadium, with only a quarter to go! We rushed back in and found ourselves sitting 6 rows from the court, in front of dual gold medallist Mary Jose Perec, Cathy Freeman‘s former rival. There was a massive roar as the USA won the match, quite easily.
After the medals ceremony the Aussie girls came up into the crowd for more hugs and high fives so we were right in the thick of it yet again.
Approaching midnight, we headed for the After Party. Now I’m not usually a name-dropper but there I was with the Aussie mens team, the Aussie womens team, the hockey team, all the support staff, family and friends, along with a handful of other hangers-on: James Tomkins (again!), newly appointed IOC delegate, Steve Waugh, Layne Beachley, James Brayshaw, John Eales and Patty Mills. Unbelievable.
We could have stayed partying all night, but we caught the last subway train home.
You gotta love the Olympics!