Life Journal

Sport Relief @ VeloPark

Sport Relief @ VeloPark

21 March 2014

Sport Relief @ VeloPark

I got an email a few weeks ago about this event, a legacy of when I bought tickets to the Paralympics. I still get emails – I’m glad I didn’t unsubscribe, for once. For a mere £15 we would get to spend the evening at the Velodrome and watch the filming of Sport Relief for the BBC.

You and I made our way there, we were going to meet Jeff at our seats, as he was going straight from work. I used Citymapper for finding the fastest way to get there and it said to get off at Leyton, rather than Stratford, claiming there would be less of walk.

Well, it turned out to be a trap, because the pathway we would have walked on was completely closed, i.e. not even been built yet, under construction! We then realised there was a motorway between us and the Velodrome and so it sunk in we would have to walk for sometime. It was windy and cold and it must have taken us 40 minutes walk to get there. At least we got to see the Velodrome from a desolate angle… Would have been much easier from Stratford.

We got there, bought some hot dogs for £5 each, found our seats, Jeff was there already. The filming wasn’t done quite live and they asked the audience to cheer very loudly and told us we were only 2 decibels from the loudest it had been in there during the Olympics, at which point Jeff pointed out it’s a logarithmic scale and so we were a VERY long way from beating the record.

There were two teams, the reds, led by John Bishop and the blues, led by Seb Coe – hated by some but loved by many, since making the Olympic Games such a success. I have a suspicion their team colours reflected their political affiliations… Either way, Seb Coe seemed ok from where we were seating, which was pretty far away. Thankfully I had my zoom lens. And there were four big screens.

I never watch comic or sport relief at home, but being there you have little choice! It wasn’t too bad especially as we weren’t asked to donate money by calling the number constantly, or not even once. The most interesting thing, apart from the venue itself, was watching it being filmed. It takes A LOT of people to make a tv show happen. For a brief moment I felt like I was in the audience for ‘The Hunger Games’. It’s worrying what movies can do to how you perceive life sometimes. We also had fun playing with the zoom lens on my camera.

John Bishop and Seb Coe

You were in constant contact with your friends, as usual, and they were watching on tv, which gave us an idea of the sort of lag between what was happening there and what was being shown, and when. It was bemusing seeing celebrities from far away. On the way there you did say the cult of celebrity is pathetic, and I thought ‘that’s my boy’, but also pointed out we have been doing this for as long as we have been around, humans just seem to like to worship people, be it religiously or more carnally, as we do now.

The person we all got the most excited about, however, was Eddie the Eagle. I’m not entirely sure why, but the man has such charisma, he seems to have a natural talent for waving at the audience, smiling and making everyone cheer. You can’t teach that, you either have it or you don’t – and Eddie has tons of it.

Some French chef, Gabi Logan and Eddie The Eagle

Then there was the Gymnastics section, which was there for comic relief. And then two real professionals demonstrated their skills, and this one in particular had us all spellbound (hence the song I picked for it, the song at the venue was dubstep).  Billy George and the Cyr-Wheel.  Apparently he was the first person in the UK to learn it.  There are now only 6 or 7 other people who can earn a living out of this discipline in this country.

The events alternated between the VeloPark and the Aquatic Centre. I picked the VeloPark as we had never been to a velodrome, but seen many pools before… When an event was happening in the Aquatic Centre they would show it on the screens. Once again, the synchronised swimming was there for comic relief. Which made me realise, sport is the new comedy. In the 90s we went to comedy clubs and now we seem to go to sporting events. Both venues sell beers, thankfully.

The very final event to be filmed on the VeloPark was Nicola Adams (olympic gold medalist boxing) vs. Amy Williams (olympic gold medalist skeleton bob). We agreed that a boxer was likely to have stronger legs and cycle faster, so we put our imaginary bets on her.

WE WERE VERY WRONG.   Amy was very fast, the fastest in fact. It was all over by 20:30 and we made our way home. This actual race wasn’t transmitted on tv until 22:20, according to this ‘As it Happened’ timeline.


All photos above on flickr

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