Published: Thursday, 30 August 2012 Written by Walter 'WASABI' Marthaler

After a nice tour to the BEIJING OLYMPICS in 2008, the very wise Flying Hoppers management team (Stefan, Retus and others) decided early on that we would of course also attend the ‘nearby’ LONDON OLYMPICS. To that effect, tickets to all the important HOCKEY matches were secured well ahead of the event.

Including our London based Hoppers, Coen and Keith, a total of 21 Flying Hoppers became participants in this fabulous mini tour,  with some Flying Shoppers forming part of the group, and only Max somehow missing in action……..?!


WEDNESDAY,  August 8, 2012


I joined the main body of the group at Zurich airport for the short flight to London Gatwick. Naturally everybody was in a brilliant mood, and some of us even started the trip on the plane with a glass of wine instead of breakfast.


At Gatwick airport Shoko and Stefan were just ahead of me in the immigration queue. They went to different immigration officers, and the one attending to Shoko asked her if she was traveling on her own, to which she replied: “No, with my husband”.  Whereupon the officer pointed towards me and asked: “Him?” Shoko immediately and very crisply replied: “No! Not that one!!”


After getting out of Gatwick airport I did not join the main group going to the hotel in Kensington but made my way to my nephew’s place in West Hampstead. Quite early on in the afternoon I went from there to Battersea Park where the HOCKEY GAME against TEAM HOFF was supposed to take place. Walking in the park towards the hockey grounds I ran into Silvina who looked a touch flustered because she had just received an e-mail message from Stefan on her mobile phone, informing her that instead of meeting up at Battersea Park we should all assemble at Victoria Station. To make our way to Victoria Station from where we had so coincidentally met was really just like ‘a walk in the park’ – even though we walked away from the park! Eventually more or less everybody met up on time at Victoria and we caught a train to CHEAM. There we were welcomed at the station, and from then on were taken care of very nicely by the TEAM HOFF people, our hockey friends whom we met on our Caribbean tour last year. In particular, Claudia,  Claudio and Raphi had stayed in touch with Team Hoff members, and so it was a given that a friendly match would be organized. In a truly friendly match there are simply no winners or losers, i.e. both teams were winners in terms of friendship, and we all had a splendid time. After the game, Team Hoff treated us to food and drinks at the Cheam Sports Club. It was really a most enjoyable evening. Sadly, we had to catch the last train to Victoria which already left at 11.02 hours – rather early by Flying Hoppers standards……!


THURSDAY,  August 9, 2012


The previous evening at the Cheam Sport Clubhouse I had given away my morning tickets for both the 9th and 11th August, i.e. for the men’s ranking games. Together with some others from our group, I arrived at the OLYMPIC PARK in the afternoon to see the two men’s semi finals. First up was Australia against Germany. The strong German defenders held tight against most of the Australian attacks. In the first half in particular the Australians were attacking a lot, but could not get a decisive advantage. Eventually, in the second half, Germany took a 3 : 2 lead and added one more goal later on to put the game beyond any doubt, i.e. a 4 : 2 end result.


The game in the evening was a kind of ‘show-boating’ event by the Dutch team who ran circles around the British team, resulting in a devastating 9 : 2 end result, quite likely one of the highest scores ever in an Olympic semi final? There were some really fantastic goals being scored which were a delight to watch!


FRIDAY,  August 10, 2012


The day of the Women’s Bronze Medal and Gold Medal matches was upon us.


In the afternoon, the match between Team GB and New Zealand was quite a one-sided affair. The more effective British team clearly had the upper hand and won the game convincingly 3 : 1.


The women’s final between Argentina and The Netherlands was a delight to watch. The Dutch team largely dominated the play and deservedly won by 2 : 1 goals, both goals coming from short corners. The second goal in particular was a real treat!


In the evening, a few of us went on to the HOLLAND HOUSE, a tradition we (thanks to Coen’s great help!) had started during the Beijing Olympics. Once again Coen had organized tickets for all those interested to join in with the Dutch celebrations. In Beijing, too, the Dutch ladies had won, and Coen had very good memories of meeting up with Naomi. She became a gold medal winner in London once again.


Unfortunately the transfer by taxi from the Olympic Park to the Holland House proved to be a bit of a nightmare – an extremely slow progress indeed! Still, we somehow managed to arrive at the Alexandra Palace venue by 11.58 p.m.  Since the cut-off time for entrance to the Holland House was midnight, we really made it in the nick of time! Fiona had texted some humorous messages to Coen concerning our likely late arrival at Holland House, which did not exactly make him feel relaxed, nor lessen his fury regarding our ‘idiotic’ taxi driver who drove so very slowly.


Regardless, I very much enjoyed witnessing the introduction of the Dutch gold medal ladies at Holland House. But soon thereafter, I was keen to get a taxi to take me home, which I managed with a good deal of luck.


SATURDAY,   August 11, 2012


The day of the men’s finals. It was also the last day together with the whole group. Most of us met up at the hockey venue in the afternoon to watch the bronze medal match between Australia and Team GB. Clearly, Australia was the better side and won the game deservedly with 3 : 1.


In the evening, the men’s final between Germany and The Netherlands got under way. The weather had turned rather windy and quite cool, which was very noticeable since we had seats high up in the stands.


Even though the Dutch played very well and scored the equalizer to 1 : 1, the Germans largely controlled the game and had the better chances. Eventually, they became the winners with the end result of 2 : 1.


Most of THE FLYING HOPPERS went into town to attend a LONDON 2012 FAREWELL DINNER at a Chinese restaurant. Stefan’s expert skills in ordering the right kind of food was absolutely first class. We all enjoyed an excellent meal before having to say, good bye!! Until next time.


Long live The Flying Hoppers, and on to more touring in 2013 and beyond  (RIO 2016 ??!!).


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