Yesterday the 21st of July 2012, I was lucky enough to see the Olympic torch relay, not once but TWICE! It came up the highstreet (A10) and turned down Stoke Newington Church Street then an hour later it came down the A10 from Stamford Hill and turned down Northwold Road right past our flat. It was great to see the relay but what I enjoyed the most was being able to see the difference in atmosphere on a street which was shut and lined with barriers compared to a street which was open and allowed spectators to be in the road with the torch.
This is Church Street, Stoke Newington. As you can see everyone is held behind barriers, the road is packed and we had to walk several hundred yards to find a space at the front of the barrier. Earlier that day the ‘Hackney One’ festival had paraded down the street so the atmosphere has been built up by that and the dozen of bars/cafes with special deals on.
The atmosphere was built up with Olympic sponsors’ trucks each giving out freebies and flags, getting the crowd cheering and lifting the boredom of having just waited 45 minutes for the flame to arrive.
The first time I was the flame on Church Street the ‘Kiss’ and change over had just happened so the runner was in full swing when he past by us.
The next time I saw the torch was on Northwold road, I had spotted the torch bearer and headed over to him. I managed to get some good shots of the torch, the runner and the ‘Kiss’. The atmosphere was so different to Church Street it was less busy but being by the torch and soaking up that was amazing.
The police and the OTR security (or the guys in grey) were doing a brilliant job! The guy had us practice cheering for when our runner had his torch lit and he really knew how to make the crowd listen and do as he wanted!