LONDON -- Our US Airways flight to London was non-stop: Seven hours 15 minutes. There were two seats on each side with four seats in the middle. I was in the middle in an exit row, which has extra leg room, but the arm rests do not move.
About 30 minutes into the flight, I discovered why I am the only person sitting in this row. While each seat has a TV, my row does not and the extra leg room has become a cut through for the bathrooms. One passenger after another, some even climbing over my legs, are using this row to make their way to the lavatory. With the smell of the lavatories drifting my way, I tried to take a nap.
But, every few minutes, I am awakened by passengers navigating their way toward relief. I look one row behind me and my photographer Kevin is sleeping like a baby.
London is five hours ahead of Charlotte. We were scheduled to arrive at Gatwick Airport at 7:15 a.m. London time. I’m really looking forward to getting started gathering stories and hoped to get a few hours of sleep later.
We have about three dozen athletes from the Carolinas competing in the games and some coaches as well. SwimMAC Carolina has five Olympians, more than any other swim program in the country.
Kevin and I will be catching up with them and their coach, David Marsh. David is one of the winningest coaches in the country, bringing home a record number of NCAA swim titles at Auburn.
We’ll also be talking with a group of kayakers and canoers who call Charlotte home. Their Olympic coach moved to Charlotte from London and trains them at the Whitewater Center.
Dremiel Byers is also competing in London. He grew up in Kings Mountain and has wrestled his way to another Olympics. We’ll also be following a group of Charlotte-area chiropractors who have been invited to work with the athletes.
It will be a fascinating experience and Kevin and I are looking forward to some great competition and long days.
Now, if I can just get a few hours of sleep.
Traffic not 'Brilliant'
Photographer Kevin Ridley and arrived in London, both exhausted and energized. Traffic is nightmare. It took us two hours from Gatwick Airport by car. If you think traffic in LA and NYC is bad, it pales in comparison to London.
After arriving at our hotel near the famous Tower Bridge, we took the shuttle to the International Broadcast Center (IBC). About three blocks from our hotel, we found ourselves in a massive traffic jam. It turns out, London taxi drivers are angry about not being able to drive in the high speed lanes during the Olympics and they staged a massive protest by stopping on the streets.
It should have taken 25 minutes to get to the IBC. It took two hours. The drivers vow to do it again on Friday during opening ceremonies.
The IBC is a large building housing news media from around the globe. We are working with NBC NewsChannel, based out of Charlotte. They help NBC affliliates coordinate live shots from special events like the Olympics. I'll be spending the first six-and-a-half hours of my day doing live shots for NBC NewsChannel. Today, we visited the live platform that overlooks the Olympic Stadium and the Aquatic Centre. We are next door to the ‘Today Show’ set.
I've spent the day working the phones and email to track down our local Olympic athletes. They have some wonderful stories to tell and we'll be bringing those to you for the next few weeks.
As they say here, it's going to be "brilliant!”