Wednesday 18 October 2017

2012 Olympics: US squad get marathon tour of London as bus gets lost

Armed police patrol around the Olympic Park site in Stratford, east
London, yesterday
Armed police patrol around the Olympic Park site in Stratford, east London, yesterday
The Cuban weightlifting squad arriving at Heathrow

Simon Calder in London

A new track record was set yesterday in London, when a bus carrying weary US athletes from Heathrow airport to the Olympic Village took four hours -- twice as long as the world record for the marathon, a similar distance.

Kerron Clement, an Olympic champion hurdler, was one of those treated to the extended tour of the British capital. "We've been lost on the road for 4hrs," he tweeted plaintively as the hapless bus driver tried to find Stratford.

"Athletes are sleepy, hungry and need to pee -- not a good first impression London."

All eyes had been on Heathrow in the most punishing 2012 event of all: the Olympic image hurdles. It was expecting the busiest day in its history -- and the first of three "red days" before and after the Games.

But with immigration desks fully staffed, and hundreds of volunteers drafted in, the host airport was calm.

Simon Johansson, who flew into Terminal 5 from Stockholm, said: "I'd been told I'd be waiting for three or four hours. In fact, it was two or three minutes."

The organisers shrugged off criticism as London got to grips with new road layouts and delays.

"We have successfully completed a large number of bus journeys so far today," said a spokeswoman for London 2012.

But once the US hurdler, Kerron Clement, got to his destination, he cheered up: "Eating at the Olympic Village. Love the variety of food. African, Caribbean, Halal cuisine, and, of course, McDonalds."

Meanwhile, more than 20,000 G4S guards have been accredited to provide security for the Olympics but the firm is unable to get them to turn up at venues, British Home Secretary Theresa May said yesterday.

The under-fire firm repeatedly assured ministers it would "overshoot" its recruitment targets and only admitted it would fail last week.

A further 3,500 troops who were drafted in to close the gap have now been joined by officers from nine police forces after security staff failed to turn up.

Mrs May said G4S had more than 20,000 accredited Olympics staff but the issue was scheduling and "getting staff to the venue security tasks".

Asked why, she said: "I think there are a number of things. The first is about the scheduling problems G4S themselves have had.

"And there will be individuals who are now saying they do not wish to take that work up."(© Independent News Service)

Build up to the games: see sport

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