A cool taste of London at Olympic time

BY PAUL A REID Observer Writer

Wednesday, July 18, 2012    

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LONDON, England — I am not sure which was the bigger shock arriving in London Monday afternoon, the ease to get through customs, or the weather which was cool, even for British summer conditions.

Arriving at Heathrow International airport from Barcelona after the 14th IAAF World Junior Championships, where it was mostly sunny and hot, the cool conditions were an eye-opener, but from the initial welcome by the pink-clad volunteers, it was obvious that if they had any control over the weather, they would have made it better.

As is customary for major championships, there are special lines at the airports for the thousands who are accredited for the Olympic Games, and the bright pink signs are hard to miss, as are the ubiquitous volunteers floating around to make sure the process was seamless.

Just ahead of me in the line were two cyclists from Guatemala, and luckily, one of the elderly women who was there to greet us spoke some Spanish and accompanied them all the way through, even to baggage claim, and then to their transport.

I had no such luck and had to find my way to the underground with my bags and almost two hours later in rush hour to East London to meet a colleague, who took me to where I would be staying for the night, then on to Birmingham for the Jamaican pre-Olympic camp which began on Monday.

There was one slight hitch for me at immigration as given that the London organisers had waived visa requirements, because I had one, the lady processing my documents called a supervisor to ask how

to proceed.

While endorsing the Olympic accreditation, which the official advised I should wear all the time, one of the younger members told me that some Jamaicans had come through a few days earlier while he was on duty, but he had some problems remembering the names.

"Usain Bolt?" I asked, pre-empting what has been the most-asked-after name since I had left Jamaica for the World Juniors over a

week ago.

"No," he said. "An older guy who won some medals in Montreal and the finance guy."

An older volunteer and obviously a track and field fan helped him out.

"He is talking about Don Quarrie," he told me, then went on to say that the Montreal Olympic 200m gold medallist and technical head of the Jamaican track and field team did not want to be reminded about his silver

medal in the 100m, and that they all had a

good laugh.

The 'finance guy' would have been Ludlow Watts, the treasurer of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA).

Outside was a bee-hive of activities associated with most major airports and transport hubs, but on Monday, Heathrow International was even busier, with a number of news outlets hoping to get shots of athletes and officials, and even members of the international press arriving and capturing images leading up to what is expected to be the greatest show on earth, starting July 27 and running through August 12.



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