May 22 2013 Latest news:
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Imogen Blake takes a tour of the Olympic Park to see how it’s changed since the 2012 Games.
I’m not usually a fan of watching competitive sports but I don’t know anyone who wasn’t mesmerised by Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony or the successes of Team GB last summer.
So as I walked onto a bus at Stratford station about to take me and 29 others around the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, I became slightly nervous.
I didn’t get tickets for the Games and the closest I had been to the site previously was looking at the Stadium and AcelorMittal Orbit structure through a train window on the way past Stratford.
But the grounds have since become a building site as part of the transformation into a local park for sporting activities, housing, and entertainment, the north part of which will open in July this year.
Before we set off, chirpy tour guide Sarah Salem, 62, prepared us for a different Park to the one we had all seen on TV. I couldn’t shake the feeling we were about to see a graveyard of Olympic memories.
But as soon as the Stadium’s white, jagged shell came into view, I knew I needn’t have worried. The venues still look as magnificent as they did in July and August except now they are surrounded by mounds of soil, orange and white barriers, and fluorescent-vested construction workers.
The hockey arena has gone, leaving a stretch of dirt behind, and only the striking white shell of the Basketball Arena remains of that temporary structure.
We weren’t allowed off the bus because the Park is a restricted access building site but the tour still offers unique views of the transformation.
As Sarah said to us before we set off: “Just because the Olympics has come and gone, it doesn’t mean it has to be done with.”
Tours run three times a day on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and are open to the public on some weekends.
To book a trip contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0800 023 2030.