How to fill the Olympic void

Words by: Clare Scott
Posted: 6/9/12 10:49

How to fill the Olympic voidThe London 2012 Olympics may have drawn to a close, but the city is still in the midst of a season of sport, and there’s a plethora of athletic-inspired things to do that will more than compensated for the abyss the closing ceremony has left. For starters, you could practice your track star skills at go-karting or perhaps venture on a marathon party session, pit-stopping to sample Olympic-inspired cocktails. These are only a taste of what the big smoke has to offer – read on for much more.

Show your Paralympian support
If you, like me, have noticed that the city seems to have ‘forgotten’ the Paralympics Games, it’s time to make a stand. After all, in many ways these competitors deserve special attention; I sure as hell wouldn’t know where to start when it comes to Power Lifting and Goalball and I am able bodied. These athletes, nonetheless, have bypassed their shortcomings to become top of their game. The Paralympics are just as worthy, if not more so, of your attention, so earmark some time to encourage these extraordinary people and don’t miss the closing ceremony on Sunday, 9th September - head to your local and watch it unfold on the big screens.

Go on an Olympic park tour
While the Paralympics play out, the Olympic Park visits are on hold, but you can still take a bicycle tour that takes you as close to the grounds as possible. A designated guide will take you there, give you a bit of insider info, and you’ll also ride past iconic places like the Tate Gallery, Borough Market, and Tower Bridge (often mistaken for London Bridge – which is a rather less grand overpass right next to Tower Bridge’s elaborately decorated twin turrets).

Should your rather take to your feet, you could sign up for the Walk for GoldLondon’s Olympic Heritage Walk. While on the stroll you’ll learn a little about the 1908 and 1948 games London hosted, and again, get as close as possible to the Olympic Stadium, Aquatics Centre, Broadcasting Centre, Anish Kapoor’s ArcelorMittal Orbit, and the Olympic and Paralympic Village.

Take up more sports
We’ve covered walking and cycling, but what if you’d like to take things up a notch? There’s no better time than the present to get fit and running is one of the best places to start. Try signing up to Home Run London; guided jogs home lead by a team of enviably-in shape individuals to keep you motivated. The aim of the game is to ‘get fit, get home’ and the best thing about doing it with Home Run London is that you needn’t worry about where to put your stuff – they’ll carry it for you.

Become the next Formula One star
Who’d have thought that down on London’s iconic Southbank, you could perfect your racing skills? At Namco Station, right in-between the aquarium and the London Eye, you can. Namco is a three-floor entertainments centre that boasts of Europe’s fastest bumper cars, or ‘dodgems’. Rally round your mates and take to the course to see who will be the next Michael Schumacher.

Over at Tower Bridge it’s all about go-karting. Hair-raising bends and elevated fly-overs await you just minutes from Bermondsey tube station. Nice to know, too, that you’ll be driving brand new electric eco karts meaning more speed, zero carbon emissions. The pièce de résistance lies, though, in a two-tier track that can be joined together as one and also privately booked. Stag do, corporate team building – whatever, the promise of whizzing round an impressive stretch is the only excuse you need to get reaching for a boiler suit and helmet.

Appreciate revolutionary sporting design
Where there are Olympians, cutting-edge design follows. London’s Design Museum is currently hosting Designed to Win; a high-profile exhibition that showcases some of the technology that assists the world’s sporting champions.

On display you’ll find everything from Speedo’s FastSkin3 swimwear – a collection of one-pieces that took over four years and 55,000 man hours to perfect – plus racing bicycles, rowing boats, bobsleighs, Paralympic wheelchairs and Formula One cars.

The exhibition is also an opportunity to get up-close to the kit fashion designer Stella McCartney created for Team GB, see some of Puma’s collaboration with designer Hussein Chalayan, and also to try out some of the equipment on display at the ‘Training and Safety’ department.

One of the most insightful parts of the exhibition is the section devoted to sporting controversies. Here you’ll find designs that have never been created due to their extreme effectiveness giving sportsmen what’s considered to be an ‘unfair advantage’.

Enjoy a marathon movie session
Get the beer in, order the pizza and download a whole host of sporting-great films with your mates. Chariots of Fire should be top of the list – we’ve certainly heard the song enough times over the last month or so, so what about the movie? It’s a quadruple academy award-winning British drama from the eighties, and tells the fact-based story of Eric Liddell and Harold Abrahams, two athletes from the Paris 1924 Olympics.

Prefer something funnier? Try reacquainting yourself with some old classics like Jon Turteltaub’s Cool Runnings starring John Candy, or perhaps Jerry McGuire, Raging Bull, The Hustler or the Farrelly brothers’ Kingpin – hilarious.

If all else fails…

Head out for a marathon party session
Start the night off navigating your way around London Wonderground, a brand new ‘marvelous festival of circus, cabaret and sideshow’ right on the Southbank at Waterloo. The venture is part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and until September 30th, you can enjoy a huge variety of bands, theatrical productions and comedy from both established acts and total newcomers.

After a show, head on over to the slick bar Bond’s in Mayfair where you’ll find their cocktail list crowned with an Olympic torch tribute; The Bond’s Flame – similar to a Pina Colada, but completed with a just-ignited fiery finish.

At Tiki bar Kona Koi in Fulham, mixologist Alex Clark has composed the cocktail Spirit of Olympia – a drink blended with ingredients from London, Japan, France, and Malaysia – it comes accompanied by regular rounds of hula-hooping, Hawaiian dancing and limboing, should you feel the urge.

Carry on into the small hours at one of London’s hotspots; The Nest in Dalston. Everyone from DJ Yoda to Todd Terje and the Plump DJs have been rocking up to play a set in this tiny, aptly named basement so go join them and toast to the next Olympics in 2016.


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