Epic torch relay, basketball game define London Olympics for local man

August 14, 2012

By Warren Kagarise

The action surrounding the 2012 Summer Olympics extended far beyond London.

Kyle Haddad-Fonda experienced the Olympic Torch Relay in Oxford and later headed south to experience the games. (Haddad-Fonda’s parents live in Issaquah.)

London Olympics organizers intended for the 70-day torch relay to crisscross the United Kingdom in the run-up to the July 27 Opening Ceremony.

In Oxford, Haddad-Fonda and a friend stood along St. Clement’s Street to see the torch speed past.

“Seeing the torch itself was fairly anticlimactic, since it went by very fast, but it was fun to see the street lined with cheering people,” he recalled. “Quite a few of the people who lived along that street had climbed out their windows onto roofs or eaves to sit and watch from above, and most of them had Union Jack flags. There were a lot of families with little children, many of whom were wearing Union Jack face paint or waving British flags.”

The games opened as the United Kingdom celebrates Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee, or 60 years on the throne.

“Since both the Olympics and the Jubilee have happened in the same summer, it has been exciting to see so many British flags all over Oxford,” Haddad-Fonda said.

Once the games opened — London is about 60 miles southeast of Oxford — Haddad-Fonda headed to the mattress-shaped Olympic Park Basketball Arena on Aug. 9 to see the women’s basketball semifinal game between France and Russia. (France later faced the United States in the gold-medal game, and earned silver as the United States clinched gold.)

“I went to the game with a British friend of mine, who conceded that he had never before seen a basketball game in person,” he recalled. “He declined my offer to explain the rules, however, on the grounds that he had watched ‘Space Jam’ as a kid and felt that he could follow along.”

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