London Calling: Welcome to the Olympics
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2000 Bulgarian Olympian Christian Ivanov continues his blog, "London Calling," for International Gymnast Online, through which he will be sharing his experiences visiting the Olympic host city.

July 25: Touchdown at Heathrow

The flight from Dallas was quite easy, two movies, dinner, short nap, breakfast and buckle in for landing! Heathrow Airport was busy, but I got through it fairly quickly, hopped on the Tube (London's underground public transportation, which is fantastic), and not before long I was at the North Greenwich Arena, or the formerly known (and still called) O2 Arena. The apartment I am staying in is a quarter of a mile from the arena. From the 10th floor I have a view of the Thames and O2.... lucky me!

Weather is absolutely perfect today, low '80s with a mild cloud cover and as we are approaching the evening temps are dropping to the '60s. First impressions — things seem to be very organized and there are a lot of security and volunteers everywhere. The O2 is impressive with its huge variety of restaurants, coffee shops, movie theaters and interaction centers. I also took a short trip to the Olympic Park. It was closed to the public until the Games actually begin but you can see the chaos by the mix of tourists, athletes and officials building up; can't imagine what it would be in a couple of days after the Games have officially begun.

Tonight I am meeting with a former teammate, Olympian Jordan Jovtchev, who is competing in his record sixth Olympic Games, and Krasimir Dunev, a former Olympic high bar sliver medalist and now the Bulgarian national team head coach. We will catch up right after Jordan's podium training, which is the last one for today. Jordan is going to carry the flag for Bulgaria on Friday in the Opening Ceremonies, so keep an eye out for him as you're watching!

And here is the buzz around the gymnastics training. Russians Viktoria Komova and Maria Paseka have both been landing Amanar vaults, which fuels the interest in the women's team final a lot more. I think that these two vaults by the Russians level the playing field completely in the USA vs. Russian team showdown, and I believe Komova is the favorite for the all-around... I can't wait for the Games to begin!

On a different note the news was that Romanian young star Larisa Iordache had an off day at the gym today. Struggling on floor exercise and not opting for a full set, then not vaulting, but looking sharp on bars. I certainly hope she was just not feeling well today, and that an injury won't stop her from showing her recent upgrades and improvements she has made.

Today's photo gallery!

There are lots of articles about the British stars.

1996 Olympic high bar silver medalist Krasimir Dunev and I catch up.

Here I am having a beer at one of the famous pubs around the arena.

The famous O2, or North Greenwich Arena, where the sold-out gymnastics competition will take place

The Olympic park, closed to the public until the Games officially begin

London is already packed with tourists from around the world
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