London 2012, Day 8 – Manchester

Cover a football match at Old Trafford. Check.

Today I checked an item off my bucket list* that I’d never even thought to add to it. I covered an Olympic women’s match at one of the most historic football stadiums in the world, Old Trafford, home to Manchester United. After the walk-through yesterday, midfielder Megan Rapinoe said she could understand why people talk about the magic inside that stadium. Today, filled with 30,000 fans–the largest crowd ever to attend a women’s game there–it was obvious why so many U.S. fans had made the commute to Manchester simply to attend that game. The stadium was magical.

The team walking into the Theater of Dreams.

(I started compiling a mental list of my favorite stadiums and so far, I’ve added Las Ventas in Madrid, Spain; Plaza de Toros in Mexico City; Three Rivers, PNC Park and Heinz Field in Pittsburgh–obviously!–The Bird’s Nest in Beijing; “The Swamp” at Florida Field in Gainesville; The Coliseum in Los Angeles; Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles (minus the drive to get there); Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Oregon; and, of course, Old Trafford. That’s a good start, anyway.)

This match marked the first time an international women’s game (not including a friendly played in the early 1990s) was played at Old Trafford. Abby Wambach became the first international woman to score a goal in the stadium. Pretty historic night. After the game, I wrote about the effect the success of the U.S. women’s team, and the rising Great Britain team, has had on the popularity of women’s soccer in the UK. Together, they are growing the sport, and holding women’s matches in these iconic stadiums will certainly provide a much-needed boost to the sport. You can read that story HERE.

No matter how many Olympics I cover, I will always geek out seeing my name next to an Olympic dateline and sending gymnastics news back to the States.

This morning, I woke up a bit earlier than usual to write a preview story on today’s women’s gymnastics team all-around final. I am sad to have missed the U.S. team winning only its second-ever gold, but was glad to still feel a part of it with THIS STORY. Thursday, I’ll be there in person to cover women’s individual all-around finals.

Coach Pia Sundhage signing autographs after the game. Most of those flag-draped fans are local Brits.

After the game, I met up with a few fellow journalists at Ocean Treasure 235, a Chinese food restaurant/casino near our hotel on Water Street. So far, I’ve had Indian, Italian (last night) and Chinese food here in the UK. Hey, it’s the Olympics. International cuisine for an international competition. Spanish next! I hear Camino, near Kings Cross, is a restaurant I must try asap.

In the morning, I head back to the Manchester Picadilly train station and take off for London. Finally! I hear there’s a big event taking place down south.


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