As a devout hater of sport, I was amazed to find myself (of my own free will) at a hockey match on Saturday. The reason was that it was one of the London Prepares events prior to the Olympics and it was a great opportunity to experience the Olympic venue – even on a cold wet day and in the least glamorous of the sporting enclosures. It was basically just a load of stands piled up around a pitch.
Despite the fact that so much has been done in such good time, there is still planting to complete, and so some areas are fenced off. And the wide paved areas feel unnecessary and daunting without the enormous crowds that will occupy them.
Part of the purpose of these preliminary events is to test out mundane elements like security and whether there are enough toilets in the right places. It all went pretty smoothly on Saturday. The stadium looks as one would expect – a deliberately simple structure. The real standout, even from a distance, is the velodrome. There is something about good architecture that just declares itself, and this has the advantage of standing on its own, without the temporary accretions that mar the aquatic centre.
There is a real mixture of building types, as one would expect given the number of temporary venues, each designed for efficiency and for minimal environmental impact as well as for the comfort of athletes and spectators. The real interest will be in visiting the park once it is in legacy mode and seeing how well it hangs together. In the meantime London Prepares demonstrated that London is pretty well prepared.
Oh, and the score? Germany 2 – India 1. I managed not quite to see any of the goals being scored, but it was still a great day out.