London Calling Blog: London From Above
(6 votes, average 4.33 out of 5)

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 26: First Full Day in London

Once again perfect weather today in London, no rain, but the forecast is that we will be getting some in the next several days!

I took The Tube this morning to Hyde Park. I was able to visit tennis legend Stan Smith at his event center for a little bit. I got to meet him and his staff who are all incredibly friendly. Being a huge tennis fan I had to take a picture with Stan, and as you can tell from the photo, a 6'4" former tennis player and 5'8" former gymnast don't pair up very well. I am sure there will be some Wimbledon visits during the trip!

Me and Stan Smith

I wasn't able to spend much time at Hyde Park but from the short time I was there, mostly around it, I can tell it is beautifully manicured. Below is a pic of one of the hotels touching a corner of the park. Very unusual, unique and stunningly pretty... I call it vertical landscaping.

Vertical landscaping on a hotel in Hyde Park

Despite the recently reduced number of red telephone boxes thanks to cell phones, the boxes are still frequently seen on the streets of London. And do you know why the color red was chosen? Not hard to guess... to make them easy to spot!

There are lots of articles about the British stars.

During the afternoon I took a lift ride over the Thames River. It was a quick two-minute ride, but the scenery was beautiful. Enjoy the 360-degree video clip!

Also, I didn't know that The Thames curves so much, but you can tell it goes right around the O2 and almost surrounds it three-quarters of the way.

From the lift I could also see the Excel Arena where seven sports will take place at the Olympics: boxing, fencing, judo, table tennis, Tae Kwon Do, weightlifting and wrestling. After the lift ride I took a quick stroll to the arena and snapped a shot from up close! Everything is locked up tight to the public.

View from above The Thames, including the Excel Arena

Outside the Excel Arena, the venue for boxing, fencing and other Olympic sports

At the O2 the women's podium training took place today. The bad news was that Larisa Iordache has a heel injury and most likely will be limited to bars and beam only. This is really a shame since some were predicting for her to be the dark horse and possibly win the all-around. But we all know the Romanians are tough as nails, and I won't be surprised if out of the blue she pops an Amanar during prelims or perhaps team finals!

But the Russians and Americans looked good. Tension is definitely building up for competition. For quick hits of the podium training please visit IG's Facebook page.

Tomorrow, the gymnasts will be limited to the training halls only, but of course in the evening we have the so much anticipated Opening Ceremony. It will be tough to match the amazing opening we had in Beijing, but let's see what London has for us. Let the 2012 Summer Olympic Games begin!

Comments (1)add comment

Jane Clarkson said:

Enjoy London calling
This is a great blog. London (my home city) is always exciting but it's brilliant to welcome Christian and all the other athletes from so many sports and countries. The Olympics will produce some superstars, maybe including a gymnast or two, and maybe from the men's side (as a Brit I am of course rooting for Louis Smith and Dan Purvis). But the Games belong just as much to incredible athletes like Christian and his friends. And Chrisian - do go to Wimbledon while you are here!
July 27, 2012
Votes: +3

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