We had to get up at 5am. Very early but it was necessary to see our field hockey ladies play their second group match, which started at 8.30am and we had to cross the city from the hotel to the Riverbank Arena in the Olympic Park. At least we had time underway to wake up and get excited. These were the only tickets we bought that had a guarantee (if the Dutch team would qualify) for a Dutch match. You bought two sessions out of the three of the day, so we had four matches to see in total.
We had amazing orange shirts that Esther decorated but unfortunately it was raining very heavily when we arrived and it didn’t stop the whole morning so the shirts were hidden under vests and coats and ponchos. Maybe it was the rain, maybe it was the early start, but the Dutch supporters weren’t really paying attention during our national anthem. Usually people sing along but now it stayed very quiet. Their match was against Japan and it started out great with a very fast goal. They were even ahead 3-0 at the beginning of the second half but they started to have problems at that time. Ten minutes later the Japanese got back to 3-2 and the final twenty minutes of the match were nerve wrecking but they pulled through and did win. I wouldn’t have bet all my money on them to win the tournament based on that match, especially after seeing New-Zealand play the match after against South-Africa and winning very easily with 4-1. Our girls did regroup and didn’t lose one match in the entire tournament. We saw the Olympic champions play! People always say it is even more difficult defending an Olympic title than winning one, but they succeeded in winning the final and prolonging the title.
After the second match we had to leave the Arena and come back in with our tickets for the second session, so we had time to have lunch on the Park. A family friend of Judith and Esther was in the Park at the time too and we met him after we had lunch. He was at a basketball match and he was done later than we were but before our second session started, so it worked out great. We walked around the park, looking at other arenas and went to the basketball arena when the match was over. While we were waiting for him to come out of the basketball arena we finally noticed how busy it was. It was like looking at an ant farm! Luckily we never noticed this while walking in the crowd! It was all because of the amazing volunteers that everything went so well. They were guiding people to the left side so that there were two clear streams of direction and this worked perfectly.
We ended up chatting so long that we missed the first half of the first match, Belgium – China. It was okay, we didn’t have the need to see that particular game. The next match was the one we wanted to see this afternoon, Great Britain – South Korea. It had been dry from lunch until we returned to the Riverbank Arena but we had a downpour when the teams were warming up. It is a good thing they are playing on water fields! It was clear that the British supports were awake from the moment that Team GB stepped onto the field and we all had goosebumps when the British national anthem was played and 15.000 people sang along. Every British goal was celebrated loudly and there was plenty to celebrate. Great Britain won the match 5-3 but they didn’t win as easily as the score might suggest.
After a field hockey filled day we went to the Holland Heineken House again, this time with friends of Esther who were doing an internship in London. We had dinner there, watched tennis and handball on the big screens and talked about the Olympics, London, science, we had plenty of things to talk about. We even saw Jeroen van der Boom perform, although we walked in when he started his last song. At least we can say that we saw him, right? We passed the Medal Wall on our way to the shuttle bus and the first winners were up already, Marianne Vos got gold with cycling on the road and the swim ladies got silver in the 4x100m relay. Great to see they were keeping it up to date!