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London 2012 Insider’s Guide: Seat Fillers, Sustainable Stadiums & Patriotic Tributes

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One of our favorite parts about the London Games has been getting the scoop from the stands. Our correspondent Phil Wallace made to six events in six days in London.  In his final update he shares his favorite Olympic events, the countries with the best cheering squads and his final thoughts on London as a host.

Greetings from London again! This is my final Olympic update, as I write from London’s Heathrow Airport. It’s been a thrill to attend the Games of the 30th Olympiad and I’m already thinking about going to Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

Overall, I’ve been to six sporting events in six days, and it’s been a whirlwind. After attending field hockey on Tuesday night, I headed back to Olympic Park on Wednesday afternoon for women’s water polo.

In my last post, I discussed how field hockey is a sport that’s played mostly in the Northeast US, so growing up in Southern California, I never felt much connection to it. That’s not the case with water polo, which was one of the most popular sports in my high school. I tried and failed to get US men’s water polo tickets to see a fellow high school schoolmate play. But I did get my water polo fix by snagging tickets for two women’s matches, the first between Hungary and China, and the second being between Italy and Russia.

Despite going to the London 2012 web site just two days before this particular event, I wound up with second row tickets in the “Olympic Family” section. Evidently, some Olympic officials originally had these seats and wound up releasing them back to the general public.

The aptly named Water Polo Arena was fairly nice. It’s the first Olympic venue ever built solely for water polo. However, it’s a temporary venue and slated to be torn down after the Games. For the most part, the arena’s 5,000 seats were full, making it the largest crowd I’d ever seen for the sport.