It was strange getting back into the joys of supporting Team GB after a gap of nearly10 years. My wife Peggy and I had enjoyed many trips but it did not seem the same after she died. However, just a month after enjoying a superb trip to Austria for the multi-event championship in Gotzis, I found myself on my way to Lille for the European Team Championships to cheer on the GB vests, whether they were likely to win the event or be 11th. Every little helps, as they say.
I was a 65-year-old virgin (Eurostar Virgin, that is) so I had avoided any morning rush-hour panic by travelling to London the previous evening and finding a hotel near St Pancras. I met some like-minded people in our carriage which helped the journey-time pass quickly.
After a quick wash and brush-up at the hotel, I joined the strangest two hour “walking tour” of Lille, with 75 minutes of that in the coach, and MOST of that in traffic jams. Then it was straight on to the Stadium for the first night of athletics, which comprised solely of qualifying heats for the shorter distances where 11 teams had to be whittled down to 8 for each final – you will know why Russia were not involved!!! By the end of the evening, my bare legs were getting a little chilly, but after the ¾ mile rush to the nearest Metro station for the whistle-stop trip back to the hotel, I was nicely warm again.
I had put my watch on an hour but had forgotten to change the time on my phone/alarm clock, hence I was an hour later than planned for breakfast. Senior moment. After the disappointment of the British Lions result, a stroll into town gave me a waterproof, (just in case) from C&A; how I miss their shops in England! Before the events re-started, I managed to ring two cow bells with 3 soft balls (you would have had to be there) and won myself a very nice hat, a pen and a shopping bag, courtesy of Gruyere Swiss Cheese, for which I wholeheartedly and publicly thank them. The gloom of our girls failing on the third baton change was lifted when the boys won to brighten our journey back to the hotel for another evening meal.
The final day did not bring any outstanding GB displays and we were just pipped by the host team for 3rd spot...........which did not have any bearing on the enjoyment of our group meal that evening. Just a shame I managed to leave my new waterproof behind. I think there may have been a few headaches and bleary eyes on the coach on Monday morning as we set off to Belgium and a day experiencing the battlefields and museums of Ypres.
Blogger: Pete Farrelly