London Log-In - July 27, 2012
UCLA athletes, coaches, alumni and staff share their experiences at the 2012 Olympics. UCLA Gymnastics Head Coach Valorie Kondos Field and Associate Athletic Director Mike Sondheimer checked in on Friday, July 27.
July 27, 2012
First day in the UK ... "splendid" time walking and dining solo (no, Hope wasn't with me) ... She's hanging out with Ariana! (Check out Ariana Berlin's FB photos, she's having an experience of a lifetime as one of the videographers for USA Women's Soccer).
The first person I saw as I ventured out tonight was this toga-donned gentleman in the photo. Loved his style! I thought he might have been welcoming my Greek heritage to the UK as a tribute to the first Olympics Games. No?
During dinner at an outdoor tavern, there was a fly-by that released a brilliant red, white and blue jet steam. My waitress suggested it was the UK's way of welcoming Americans to the UK. Very sweet. The spirit of the games is abundant in London!
Valorie Kondos Field
July 27, 2012
All of our women's and men's volleyball matches are being played in a gigantic historic exhibition hall in Central London called Earl's Court. It is the largest hall of its kind in the area and can seat almost 20,000 for volleyball. The Hall has the main volleyball court for competition and, in the back area, has two warm-up courts and locker rooms in Earl's Court 2.
It also houses all of the media volleyball TV trucks in the back staging area and the complete media center that is the equivalent of a good size law firm office space. The fans have easy access to the facility, as a major 'Tube' train station is directly across the street. It connects from all areas at the Earl's Court station, which is huge.
The Earl's Court facility is old and historic and was used for several sports for the 1948 Olympic Games when it was last held in London. Actually, exhibitions go back to the late 1800's. Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show was a fixture here, and there were water rides and a 100-foot sky wheel for entertainment around 1896. The actual current arena opened on September 1, 1937. The first event was a Chocolate and Confectionery exhibition. Because the ceiling is 119 feet high, the center was used for the British balloon inflating defense during World War II.
If you are a rock music fan, Earl's Court was one of the first places to hold major concerts in the early 1970's before big arenas became common. Groups like Pink Floyd, Slade, Led Zeppelin, Queen, Genesis and a week-long Rolling Stones concert all took place in the 1970's.
For the first 10 days of volleyball, I will be here for matches beginning at 9:30 am, and the sixth match of the night begins at 10 pm local time. The women play first on Saturday with 6 matches, and then the men on Sunday with 6 matches until pool play is completed. The top four teams from the six-team pools (12 team in both men's and women's) advance to the medal rounds. The USA women, with UCLA's Karch Kiraly as assistant coach, have a great shot at our country's first gold medal. The USA men, with UCLA's John Speraw as assistant coach and Michael Sealy as a scout coach, have a tough pool and hope to get to the medal round, where hopefully they can defend their 2008 gold medal.
The competition should look amazing on television from Earl's Court.
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