Pretend Olympic VIPs

The start of the 400m hurdles from ‘our’ seats

Regular readers will be aware of my recent delight at having obtained a ticket for the Olympic athletics this week. My regular travel buddy Big Boy saw fit to offer me the much sought after ticket once his first choice declined his offer… And his second choice failed to come back to him. I guess that makes me the bronze choice?

This wasn’t the first Olympic event for either of us. I had attended four, so I was conscious that it was likely that we could ‘upgrade’: locate some empty seats and pretend that they were ours. Until the ticket holders turned up and apologetically asked us to move. This Olympic crowd is just so polite!

So after arriving in style on the new Javelin train service (not as pointy as I was expecting), we made our way through the throngs and looked for our seats. As expected, they were too far back for our liking, so we took our positions some 10 rows in front, just behind the Olympic torch. The next problem we noted was that parts of the track took on a mirage-like appearance, looking through the fumes from the torch. That wouldn’t do.

Quicker than you could say “Claiming seats back from the corporate sponsors”, we moved over four blocks, and a fair few rows, for a better position. After enjoying the view for at least 6 minutes, we still weren’t satisfied. By now the beer had kicked in and our courage had grown. We spotted empty seats in the lower tier. I was seconded to be the advance party with the instruction to text Big Boy with my new position, once safe behind ‘enemy’ (corporate sponsors) lines. I walked straight in. I communicated my successful mission and sent orders for Big Boy to bring new suppliers (beer).

Felix Sanchez comes over for a cuddle after winning the 400m hurdles

Our new seats were great, but after at least 7 minutes, we noticed the promised land one block over. We just needed one final push. This time, we advanced in formation, led by Big Boy with me covering the rear (plenty of it to cover, believe me). But this time it wasn’t so easy. We encountered resistance at the door (yes, they like their seating draft-free). Big Boy went for the reasoned argument approach. “Why should empty seats not be used? We will move if anyone needs the seats.” It wasn’t working. But amazingly, just by repetition and sheer audacity, the man decided to let us in! We then bypassed a lady asking for our passes/tickets, mumbling something about already showing them to her colleague. She clearly didn’t want a confrontation. We were in!

We wasted no time and took seats in the front row, reserved for photographers. Well, we had cameras. All around us were athletes in team tracksuits and coaches shouting instructions to their competitors. We felt very out of place with our pints of beer. But we got over it! We were level with the start of the 400m, and all event winners regularly came over for hugs and bum slaps from their teammates. It was a worrying moment when the female Belarussian shot put champion bounded over towards us, arms outstretched. I was bracing myself for a whole lotta woman, when she thankfully jumped into the arms of her coach.

We stayed in the VIP section for most of the evening, until we just had to visit the toilets. Afterwards, we stood behind the rows of seats and admired the vantage point. But then Big Boy just had to take one more close up shot… Of course this time, he was stopped. He seemed to have lost his mind as he indignantly argued with the official. “We’ve been there for ages so why can’t you let us back?” Er, because we’re not meant to be there perhaps?

So that was it. Big Boy’s incredulous deserving attitude had us kicked out. He seemed to forget we were blaggers. But we’d had a good run and sneaked back in for the final event, the men’s 400m, viewed from the upper tier. We’d had fun and enjoyed being pretend Olympic VIPs.

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Official photographers taking shots from the stadium big screen. The cheats.

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