The Olympics (or how I learnt to swear in Icelandic)

August 9, 2012 in Afterhours, London Living, Personal, Pictures

I admit it. I’m not too fussed about the Olympics. To me, the Olympics mean expense, crowded tubes and longer queues at the bar.  

This rather gloomy outlook has been a source of frustration for one of my housemates, whose love of sports competes for ranking with his love of PHP. Originating from Iceland, this housemate can happily spend the evening in front of the TV watching anything from gymnastics to football (and particularly women’s volleyball – I wonder why?).

I, on the other hand, do not understand 90% of the sports, and do not care about 99.9% of them.

Imagine my surprise then when, on Monday, my housemate invited me along to watch the GB vs Iceland handball game – for starters, I had no idea what handball actually was. Apparently it’s a big deal in Iceland, however, and so I gratefully accepted the ticket and went along to cheer for both teams.

It turns out watching the Olympics from your sofa and being there in person are two very different experiences; when you’re immersed in a multi-cultural, multi-national swarm of people donned in their various flags and representative country colours, it’s hard not to get caught up in the buzz. Add to that the fact that we ended up going for a drink with the brother of one of the Icelandic handball players, Kari Kristjansson, and by the time the match started I was definitely in the spirit of things.

The match itself was actually really interesting, particularly because (unlike football, rugby etc) goals are SO frequent that there’re basically no ‘quiet’ moments. Players are also given ‘time outs’, and whilst handball was described to me as “the bastard child of football and basketball“, it also appeared to include rather rough elements of wrestling…

Equally as enjoyable was sitting next to my housemate, whose constant, angry tirade of Icelandic expletives kept everyone around us amused, and resulted in my left ear going deaf for a good two hours post-match.

We spent the evening wandering around  the Olympic Park and soaking in the atmosphere. My advice to anyone; if you have the chance to go to the Olympic Park this month, do it. If it can turn an old cynic like me into a flag-waving faux-Icelandic lunatic, it can do the same for you.