Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from goo.gl/Ta4oAX.
Published July 7th 2014
A Gold Medal Legacy
When it was announced that London would host the 2012 Olympics, I was less than enthusiastic to say the least. It was going to cost billions of tax-payer's money, many of whom were going to have their homes knocked down to make way for the facilities, and after The Games were over, there did not appear to be any future for the stadium.
I must admit though, that the London 2012 Olympics was a great success; construction for once, finished ahead of schedule, more people became interested in sports, tourists flocked, and the facilities were transformed into an amazing public park that will forever hold our Olympic legacy.
The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford was meant to part of a regeneration project for the East End, and it has certainly done that. The park officially opened in April, and at the weekend I paid my first visit.
Usually when travelling in London I'm hard pressed to find a sign post pointing me in the right direction, but from the moment I departed Stratford station I had arrows showing me where to go. They really want you to visit this place. At the opening to the park there is an information centre full of leaflets, maps, trails, and kids' activity packs. I used these to get around, and it took me about two hours to walk the entire stretch.
From just about every angle you can see the iconic Olympic Stadium, but somehow I can't help but feel that some of its thunder has been stolen by its towering next door neighbour, the Accelormittal Orbit. At just over a hundred and fourteen metres, it is the UK's tallest sculpture, which doubles up as a unique observation platform. It costs £15 to go up, and personally I think it is an eyesore.
The most attractive building is the Aquatics Centre with its wave-like roof; once a race course for Olympians, it is now open to the public starting from as little as £3.50.
Crossing the bridge over the River Lee, I saw a disappearing fountain spouting up from the ground. With the sun shining, children ran around screaming in their swimming costumes.
The park is beautifully landscaped, especially the Pleasure Gardens. The long stretch creates a piece of living, interactive art, as it combines plant and playground into one. Along the path you'll find flowerbeds and young trees alongside wooden deck chairs, swings, a helter skelter, and climbing walls. It is the epitome of a true city park.
With an emphasis on sports and fitness, Carpenter's Lock give you a chance for a workout without going to the gym. Overlooking the river and tall buildings, there are four compact pieces of equipment, explaining what parts of the body they work on, and how they should be used.
The park then merges into the street as it takes you down the road to the Copper Box. A venue for seeing world-class sport, outside is an attractive mirror installation encouraging you to 'Run'. This is in contrast to the building itself, which I think is rather ugly.
Continue down Waterden Road and turn right to get to the Hockey and Tennis Centre, or alternatively cross over to Hopkins Field. From a distance I could see a screen of the Tour de Frances cyclists on route to Cambridge.
The fields lead to Alfred's Meadow, where from the top of a hill you'll see the Olympic Rings; this layout reminded me of the Hollywood sign in LA.
At the end of the meadow you'll reach Lee Valley Vellopark, world's only venue to host all four types of cycling: track, road, mountain, and BMX.
Opposite lies the Timber Playgrounds, which looks like a recreation of Peter Pan's treehouse. Rope bridges, sand pits, paddling pools; it's got to be the most exciting playground ever. What is especially nice is how organic it feels, and how well it fits into the nature surrounding it.
After the kids have finished playing, they are bound to have worked up an appetite, which can surely be filled at the Timber Lodge Cafe.
Go down the steps to the wetlands before making your way to the Climbing wall. This is unsupervised, so safety is your own responsibility. Now your at the last leg; walk the rest of the path back to the stadium to complete the circuit, just like an Olympian. Well done.