WHO knows who Camden upset during the planning stages, but, let’s face it, the borough was handed a bum draw for its turn with the Olympic torch. The 6.45 am start time yesterday was a cheek. And while we’re on the subject: couldn’t we have thought of a route which would have taken in the beauty of Hampstead Heath (or anywhere in the north of the borough) and still managed to showcase what the new Granary Square in King’s Cross looks like, the developers of which would have loved that moment the flame parked up in a barge.
And yet, despite the pre-breakfast start and all of that, Camden people still did the event proud, turning up in their thousands to wave at somebody they’ve never met carrying the torch down the road. That can’t be a bad thing. It’s a great thing. There was a sense that this was the moment where all of our different frustrations with the planning of the London Olympics began to melt. Latecomers began scraping the leftovers off the LOCOG ticket site. Enjoy the handball, folks.
This wonderful early morning devotion in Camden adds, however, to the now often forgotten disappointment that none of the sporting events will actually take place in the borough. You can say this isn’t atypical – lot’s of places are in the same boat and how could we all possibly expect a share. But Camden didn’t just get ignored, it was earmarked to host events and then had them whipped away.
The Ham & High newspaper will look back on the fine work it did trying to make everybody realise how the cycle race initially planned for Hampstead was swapped with the race we’ll see tomorrow around Box Hill in Surrey. The original idea was for the race to do laps of the Heath, take in that ouch of a climb on Highgate West Hill and come back through Kentish Town. Forgive me for wishing they were still racing past Whitestone Pond.
That’s not all we lost. The baseball and the softball, which were due to take place in Regent’s Park, were also, um, …struck out.
It would have been a great idea, after all you always hear of fancydaniel companies getting their colleagues to play softball after work down there. It’s the perfect spot.
But before we had the chance to get too excited, the International Olympic Committee cut both sports from the Games, the first time they had done that in nearly 70 years. While 28 sports has been considered the optimum, voters on the Olympic committee cleared both baseball and softball out – and then couldn’t agree on what should come in as replacements as people bellowed rugby, roller skating and golf in their faces. So, London has 26 sports, no baseball, no softball and no Regent’s Park.
Now it is a difficult case to argue that people would have been even more enthused and even more likely to go to an event if it is right, as in right right, on their doorstep, rather than travel across their own city to see the excitement of the Olympic park. Nobody is not going to see it because the action is over to the east a little bit, or down there in Earl’s Court. But having a little piece of the Olympics in Camden would have been lovely. It’d have been a line in history for us. The dawn crowds who cheered the torch down Camden High Street yesterday spelt out why.
* PS… look at how baseball’s eviction from the London Olympics was stomached back in United States with this sample from the behemoth American sports blogsite Bleacher Report:
I also read that because the games are going to be in London for the 2012 olympics, that the London committee deemed softball and baseball ‘too American’ and should be removed. You may not know this but….most of the ENGLISH HATE AMERICANS GUTS. I lived there for a year and man, do they not like Americans.
That’ll explain it.