It’ll soon be home to the greatest athletes in the world – but last week, the Olympic Village was invaded by a range of ‘guinea pigs’ from the media and Olympic organisers – among them our own Sophia Mitchell.
On a distinctly cool Friday in late June, visitors to Stratford in East London would be confronted by a throng of office workers, journalists and civil servants, all excitedly clutching overnight bags as if setting off on a grown-ups’ geography field trip. Nearly a thousand of us descended on the London 2012 Athletes’ Village to experience where Olympianswill be staying in just a few weeks’ time.
Arriving at the Park, we were taken through the airport style security checks before being handed the keys to the apartments where we’d be spending the night. A short shuttle bus ride took us to the athlete accommodation blocks and I eagerly took the lift to the 10th floor. Nervously turning the key, I pushed open the bedroom door half expecting Usain Bolt or a throng of Chinese gymnasts to be sitting on the bed discussing their latest game-plan. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised to find a penthouse style room, complete with two single beds decked out in cheerful London 2012 bedding, and some double doors leading out onto a decked balcony area. While a little basic, the rooms were bright and colourful and equipped with everything an athlete could need, including a shared bathroom and a small TV area for athletes to relax.
A short walking tour of the Athletes’ Village followed, taking in sights such as the impressive new health facility, the Polyclinic – which after providing a top-class medical service to athletes, will serve the people living in the new Olympic neighbourhood, E20- and the ‘High Street’ offering athletes everything from a manicure to Post Office services, and the One Planet Centre where athletes can swap badges and kit with fellow Olympians from around the world.
Next stop on our tour was the Catering Village where food from around the world will be on offer to keep athletes energised and healthy during their stay. A whopping 1.2 million meals will be served to athletes, comprising 1300 different types of dishes. On the busiest day of the Games, over 65,000 meals will be served to athletes with the majority of food being Red Tractor accredited and British.
The dining area consisted of long tables – it felt a bit like a rather smart school canteen – and while we weren’t treated to the full Games-time range, a good choice was on offer: everything from healthy salads to roast beef and even yam. We did our Olympic duty by tasting everything on offer – and my official evaluation? Rather delicious all round.
After dinner, evening entertainment took place in The Globe, the social area where athletes will come to relax, play pool and enjoy a drink (non-alcoholic, of course) in between training and their competition events. The atmosphere had all the charm of an English pub, complete with comfy sofas, a stag’s head and some old-fashioned rugs scattered on the floor. However, quirky twists, like neon signs with inspirational slogans and a mini-recording studio give athletes a feel of London’s vibrancy and edginess. We were ushered back to our apartments at 11pm, the curfew time of athletes. Tired after all the day’s excitements, we headed to bed, dreaming of which Olympic athlete will be sleeping in the very same room in just a few week’s time.