Location: Aquatics Centre, Olympic Parc London
Swimming: 100 m Freestyle Women
90 minutes before the start.
Before the Games we went through an incredible exciting run to collect tickets from all places in Europe. Tickethunting should be an Olympic discipline! As for most Olympics, getting entrance is most difficult for Swimming. A relatively small stadium capacity combined with the fact that swimming is one of the most popular sports in the world. Especially when it comes to the Olympic Games. Sometimes it feels like we search for the Golden Ticket like in Charlie’s Chocolate Factory!
60 minutes left.
I am standing with Ray, my Olympic partner, a few hundred meters from the entrance to the Olympic parc. I have scored one entrance ticket via Twitter earlier that week. So, we are frantically wandering around the mall to find the black market. Where are those easily recognizable shadows? They are often British no matter where the Games are. We only see fans walking fast to the entrance. No signs of any ticket sales.
45 minutes left
Getting desperate I suddenly see familiar faces. No, that can’t be true! “Ray! there! I see the parents of Ranomi! And her brother!” Her brother I recognize because he is dressed as a lion (..). Ranomi Kromowidjojo is the favourite for the 100m freestyle that takes place in an hour!
Apparently, they just get their tickets from a representative from the Dutch ATR organisation.
I nod to Ray that we should talk to that guy! So, we do. If he has more tickets? “Yes, but only one.” Yes. This is our lucky day. We are Charlie. We found the Golden Ticket!
“But I am not allowed to sell it”. We are flabbergasted. “What are you going to do with that ticket, the final is in 45 minutes?!”. “Nothing. I go back to my organisation” We are stunned, frustrated and ready to rob him. We try everything but he sticks to his policy. The ticket will remain unused. We feel like drug addicts not being able to score.
30 minutes left
Adrenaline is coming out of our ears. It feels like we just swam 100 km. Time is ticking away. Ray pushes me to the entrance to go. “you have a ticket, go!”. This is the first time that we are split up and have to accept that this time we don’t get both in. I leave and run to the entrance.
15 minutes left.
I am in the stadium. The stands are already full, and the swimming finals are about to start. My heart is still pumping fast and my head is still frustrated that we were not able to buy that golden ticket. I feel for Ray.
5 minutes left.
My phone rings. I pick it up. “Look behind you!!” I hear an ecstatic void screaming in the phone. I look behind and it feels like I am being attacked. I don’t understand.
But then, I see a man in orange, frantically waving from high up in the stands. I look more closely. No? That cannot be true! Its Ray! He is waving and explains what just had happened.
Since we had tickets for another event that night at the Olympic parc. So, Ray went in and positioned himself for the entrance of the Aquatics Centre. Asking loudly for a ticket! To his astonishment he is successful after just 5 minutes. A group of Chinese fans have two spares due to illness. Ray buys the ticket ánd one for a Dutch student that is in the same desperate need. So, he gets in. Ray got the Golden Ticket!
0 minutes to the final.
We probably have never been as pumped up for an Olympic event as this afternoon. The climax is the fantastic win of Ranomi. The royal family, Ranomi’s parents and an orange lion are close to us when we sing the national Dutch anthem.
And we feel like Olympic athletes going the extra mile to not only be present during the Games but to have narrowly taken, not that golden medal but that golden ticket!