You can’t travel to Tokyo, but you can get in the mood for this year’s event by visiting some of London’s legendary Olympic Games venues.
In 2012 London made history as the first city to host the Games three times, with the UK winning 65 medals and absolutely smashing it in events like cycling, rowing, boxing and more.
The Games were held across 28 venues at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and other areas around the country, so with just a short ride to Stratford, Greenwich Park or Wimbledon, you can stand in the very same spots where astonishing feats of athleticism made history in 2012.
Top seven: past Olympic Games venues
1. London Aquatics Centre in Stratford
Venue for Olympic: swimming, diving and synchronised swimming
This world-class swimming facility was one of the main venues of the 2012 Olympics and had its spectator wings temporarily adjusted to fit almost 18,000 fans during the Games. This was the year Michael Phelps dominated, becoming the most decorated Olympian of all time with 22 medals to his name (he won 6 more in Rio de Janeiro to cement his place in history).
Today the centre is home to plenty of national and international sporting events and is open to the public for fitness and swim sessions. Around 800,000 visitors enjoy the water every year.
2. The Triathlon Venue in Hyde Park
Venue for Olympic: triathlon events
Although the temporary grandstand and Olympics course was removed after the Games, who could forget the legendary Hyde Park triathlon of 2012. Athletes from around the world made a gruelling 1.5km swim, 43km bike leg and a 2.5km run look easy, with Britain taking home one gold and one bronze – the highest number won by any nation at the event.
Fact: Hyde Park is one of the most dazzling and scenic places in London. As one of the city’s largest Royal Parks and home to Serpentine Lake, the famed waters for the swimming portion of the triathlon, it’s well worth a visit all year round.
3. Lee Valley VeloPark in Stratford
Venue for Olympic: cycling
VeloPark was the first venue to be completed at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The energy-efficient velodrome and BMX racing track were significant winning grounds for the British team, who earned 19 medals, including eight golds. In fact, we were the only country to win more than one gold medal in the event, making it a major home highlight of the Games.
Today the venue is open to the public all year-round, and you can cycle on the same iconic track as Chris Hoy or Victoria Pendleton, hit the road circuit or get sweaty on the mountain bike trails.
4. Equestrian Grounds in Greenwich Park
Venue for Olympic: equestrian events, dressage and show jumping
Organisers created a 6km equestrian cross-country course and set up a 23,000-capacity area for the Games in 2012. The controversial location became one of the most unforgettable venues of the event, with over 600 athletes and horses taking part. Team GB won five medals, including three gold, and the Paralympic team absolutely dominated, winning 10 medals, including five gold.
All temporary structures are gone, but the cheers echo on. The dazzling views alone are well worth the trip, plus some epic scenes from Thor: The Dark World, were filmed in Greenwich too.
Lord’s Cricket Ground in St. John’s Wood
Venue for Olympic: archery
More than 6,000 daily spectators gathered at Lord’s Cricket Ground to watch Olympic archers battle it out over an epic eight-day span. The event took place in front of the pavilion with targets placed 70 metres away, and South Korea emerged victorious with four medals, including three gold.
As a venue, Lord’s is no stranger to making history. As one of the most famous cricket grounds in the world, some of the most memorable cricket matches ever recorded have taken place on their hallowed grounds.
Horse Guard’s Parade in Central London
Venue for Olympic: beach volleyball
The ceremonial parade ground for Trooping the Colour and celebrating the Queen’s official birthday every June already makes this Westminster venue a special place, but the Horse Guard’s Parade was also the impressive backdrop for Olympic beach volleyball in 2012.
The area was turned into a 15,000-seater volleyball arena, and around 5,000 tonnes of sand created the “beach”. The central court was similar in scale to Wimbledon’s centre court, and it was there that the American team took the gold.
ExCeL near the Royal Docks
Venue for Olympic: boxing, fencing, judo, table tennis, wheelchair fencing and loads more
Exhibition Centre London was divided into a complex structure of sports halls that hosted around 13 different Olympic and Paralympic events in 2012. As one of the largest venues of the Games, visitors flocked to the centre to watch our very own Nicola Adams win the first Olympic gold medal in women’s boxing. Victory!
Whether you’re travelling around London to get your Olympics vibe on or simply exploring the city you love, we’re here to get you there quickly and safely.
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