Seven Sports “ExCel” in London
Over the past three weeks, as part of London 2012’s pre-Games testing programme, seven international sports events were held at one of London’s Olympic venues. Sports as diverse as boxing, table tennis, fencing, judo, taekwondo, weightlifting, and wrestling were all on show at ExCel London, with Debbie Jevans, the London 2012 Organising Committee’s (LOCOG) Director of Sport, calling the series of events a success, as the future host city ramps up its Games preparations.
The first week of competition in the London Prepares series of events saw testing focusing on workforce, field of play, lighting, results and scoring. Savannah Marshall from Great Britain, who won gold in the women’s boxing event, said: “It’s great to just get the feeling of the Games.”
After a few days turnaround – emulating the situation at Games time – Judo and Taekwondo took their turn in the spotlight. Gold medallist and GB athlete Aaron Cook said of the Taekwondo event: “I am obviously delighted to have won gold. I've had a brilliant day, beating the world champion. It's a massive, great venue and has given us a sample of what the Olympics will be like.”
During the final weekend of competition, Weightlifting and Wrestling events took centre stage, with Reece Humphery from the USA, who won a bronze medal in the men’s freestyle wrestling (60kg) event, saying of ExCeL: "I love it I love everything about it. I haven't had a chance to see the city because I've been focused on the competition but I'll see the city tonight. This is going to be a perfect arena for the Olympics."
Echoing Jevans comments, Stephen Newport, LOCOG’s Venue General Manager of ExCeL said: “The London Prepares series has been vital for our whole team at ExCeL. Although the venue hosts many major events and conferences, we have had to test our transition of arenas and our teams in our largest temporary venue outside the Olympic Park. We will continue to observe large events at ExCeL to look at spectator flow and management, but we are happy with how the test events have run over the past three weeks.”