LONDON – Woke up, got out of bed. . .
This is my Saturday routine on the penultimate day at the London Olympics, in the land that brought you “A Day In The Life,” the Beatles’ tune that spawned countless imitators in print and sound:
8:08 a.m. — A glass of water. (Indeed, a thrilling way to start the day.)
8:10 — Showered, shaved and got ready for another day at the Olympics, the last full day of competitions, a day with 32 gold medals up for grabs.
8:36 — Out the door, a 10-minute walk to the nearby convenience store, a few shops away from Mile End’s London Underground Station. Picked up the Guardian, the Times and the Daily Telegraph. This is in-depth Olympic coverage and I want something to read.
8:45 — Time for breakfast. Back at The Kitchen — only a few more days until I leave the United Kingdom so it’s as good a day as any to have a proper English breakfast — and catch up on the latest news.
9:51 — I noticed the time, and it’s time to go. Not time for a second large cup of coffee here. I’d thumbed through the Guardian, with a comprehensive selection of photos from the past two weeks, a celebration of the Olympics’ many triumphant stories. Made a mental note to read a few more of the Guardian articles later this afternoon.
10:00 — Boarded the train at Mile End for Earls Court. Good, there’s more time to read the paper. The train isn’t as crowded as I think it will be, so for the next 30-plus minutes it’s check-out-the-Times time.
10:30 — Get off the train. Follow the “way out” sign out of, you guessed it, Earls Court Station.
10:40 — Thought to myself: This line is moving really slowly. Hurry up, people! (My patience is being tested. OK, fine, relax, it’s still 50 minutes until the Japan-South Korea women’s volleyball match for the bronze medal.)
10:51 — Passed through security. Made my way to the entrance.
10:57 — Found a seat in the not-yet-crowded press tribune. Set up my trusty laptop for the day’s reporting duties.
11:08 — Reviewed some of the team notes about South Korea and Japan, including details of their Olympic tournament play.
11:14 — Checked email once before the match begins. One short message in my inbox was particularly relevant on this day. Japan Times sports editor Jack Gallagher had noted in one of his emails that South Korea’s Kim Yeon Koung was “the best female athlete in the world.”
11:30 — The action began, Japan took a 4-0 lead. South Korea called a timeout.
11:57 — Japan put the finishing pieces on a 27-minute Game 1, a 25-22 win. I quickly scribbled down a few notes on paper, a few impressions about what I’d just seen, including how excellent an all-around player Kim Yeon Koung happens to be.
12:10 p.m. — Over the next 80 minutes or so, I continuously revised the play-by-play and statistical material in my story.
1:30 — Once the match has ended and after visiting the mixed zone, I revised the article a bit more, and added a few quotes from Kim Yeon Koung, Japan standouts Saori Kimura, steady spiker Saori Sakoda and setter Yoshie Takeshita, as well as both coaches (Masayoshi Manabe of Japan and Kim Hyung Sil of South Korea).
2:02 — Don’t forget to spell-check the article, I told myself.
2:10 — One final proofread.
2:20 — I sent the story in via email, chronicling Japan’s first women’s Olympic volleyball medal since getting a bronze at the 1984 Los Angeles Games.
2:45 — Time to go back to the train station.
3:55 — Go back through security a second time, this time at Olympic Park. My pockets were emptied and there were no liquids in my backpack.
4:15 — Picked up Sunday’s Closing Ceremony ticket at the Japanese Olympic Committee office on the second floor of the Main Press Centre.
4:30 — Caught a few minutes of the Brazil-Mexico men’s soccer gold medal match on one of the big TVs in the MPC.
4:50 — Sat down at a quiet table and wrote a London postcard to my niece Marissa, who lives in Florida.
5:10 — Started scanning the headlines of all the day’s Olympic News Service bulletins, flash quotes, event previews, etc.
5:20 — Began printing several of the news items that I found most important and relevant, including FIBA general-secretary Patrick Baumann’s comments from a press conference at North Greenwich Arena that I was unable to attend because of the volleyball assignment.
6:15 — Outlined the main topics for the next Olympic Notebook and got about half of it written before leaving the MPC to head to Olympic Stadium for the final night of athletics competition for the London Games.
6:50 — Climbed the stairs to section 214, row 64, seat 293, two rows from the top, in the Olympic Stadium press tribune. Again, Day 15 of the Olympics, I was expecting all the seats to be filled quickly. Most journalists, though, were late arrivals. Were they out souvenir shopping? That reminds me I have a few items to pick up for friends, family and coworkers.
7:05 — Began again to write the latest installment of the Olympic Notebook.
7:44 — British hero Mo Farah crossed the finish line to complete the spectacular 5,000-10,000 double, running a smart, calculated race. The stadium was absolutely electric as he stormed into the lead and ran at full speed on the final lap.
9:08 — This track will be Farah’s second home for life, his special sanctuary, I told myself.
9:13 — Watched Usain Bolt, who earlier in the night, guided Jamaica to a record-breaking run in the 4×100, make his official Lighting Bolt pose just before the men’s javelin throw victory ceremony, another one of his moments in the spotlight, before or after a race.
9:38 — The chilly wind blowing through the stadium made my fingers quite chilly.
9:46 — The 4×100 medal winners have started to be introduced on the track: Trinidad and Tobago (bronze), USA (silver) and Jamaica (gold).
9:49 — Usain Bolt’s name was the last one called by the public-address announcer and . . . the crowd, on its feet, went absolutely berserk.
9:53 — “We want Mo” chants filled the stadium.
9:53 — “Is there anybody in particular you’re waiting for?” the P.A. announcer asked facetiously.
9:55 — The crowd chose to do the wave to pass the time.
9: 56 — Mo-mania returned to the track for the men’s 5,000-meter victory ceremony. (I remained in my seat instead of walking down the mixed zone for more interviews because I wanted to hear the crowd’s roar when Mo Farah returned to the track to collect his second gold medal. And from up here the full perspective of the crowd can be seen, heard and appreciated, rather than a small sampling of the noise from down below in the stadium’s dungeon level.)
9:58 — How appropriate: The final name announced for awards at the stadium after a super athletics meet since last weekend? Yep, Mo Farah.
9:59 — “God Save The Queen” began playing and brought tears of joy to Farah and his legions of admirers in the stadium and beyond.
11:07 — Returned to my dormitory-style room. After a long day . . . it’s time to do laundry. During the whirlwind two weeks of the Olympics, I keep forgetting to set aside time to do so. (Disclaimer: Yes, this can be the glamorous life of a sports writer late on Saturday night.)
11:12 — Walked into the building’s laundry room to discover one washer out of order, two others filled with already-washed clothes that haven’t been removed and placed into the dryer. The one available washer, I discovered, after emptying two bags of clothes into it, doesn’t take coins. So I returned all the clothes back in the bags and left them in the laundry room, returned to my room and continued working on this column.
11:28 — Emailed The Japan Times sports desk to give the editors a heads up about stories for the Monday editions.
12 a.m. — Went back into the laundry room a second, hoping there would be an available machine. Nope, same story. No one around to claim their clothes from the two washers. Wonderful.
12:34 — Sent this column to Japan with the magic of a single button.
12:35 — Postcript/note to self: You still need to get laundry done.