Cardiff 2012 Olympics Events
The 30th Olympiad may have got its official regal all-singing, all-dancing, bell-ringing and flame lighting opening in London on Friday night, but the capital of Wales saw the first sporting action two days earlier when the Team GB women’s football team beat New Zealand 1-0 in Cardiff’s famed Millennium Stadium.
In fact, Cardiff will host a grand total of 11 matches in the men’s and women’s football competition. Ryan Giggs will play in his home city when the Team GB men take on Uruguay on August 1.
Sadly this showpiece match is already sold out but tickets for most other games are still available and can be had from the London 2012 website (http://www.tickets.london2012.com/) for as little as £20. Beware of scamming websites and bogus ticket sellers though.
You also need to plan ahead as it has been taking some time to collect tickets and get through the tight security in the stadium. You can check all the hoops you’ll have to jump through at the Millennium Stadium site. (http://www.millenniumstadium.com/events/26967.php)
One of the beauties of Cardiff’s compact centre and the Millennium Stadium is its accessibility to locals, but if you’re travelling you should consider using the park and ride scheme to get into the city centre. You can find the latest travel advice on Cardiff Council’s visitors’ website. (http://www.visitcardiff.com/the-olympics-in-cardiff)
But enough of the boring details here’s the full schedule for Cardiff’s Olympic events…
Cardiff Millenium Stadium 2012 Olympic Events
July 31, 2.30pm kick off, Japan v South Africa in the women’s tournament. This group F game sees the experienced Japanese face Olympic debutantes South Africa. The Japanese women were quarter finalists in Athens 2004 and it took the mighty Germans to deny them a bronze medal in Beijing and this could be a chance to catch a team on their way to the final. The South African women, who enjoy the nickname, Banyana Banyana, or ‘the girls’ make their Olympic bow and, so far, their inexperience has shown with two losses from two.
August 1, 5pm kick off, Mexico v Switzerland in the men’s tournament. Both these sides opened their group B accounts with draws and will be desperate for wins to put them in the picture for the quarter finals. Tottenham fans can cheer on Giovani dos Santos in a Mexico side playing in their 11th Olympic tournament. This is only the third time the Swiss have appeared in the Games, but they are the proud holders of a silver medal from 1924’s Paris games – the Chariots of Fire’ Olympics. Look out for Fulham play maker Pajtim Kasami.
August 1, 7.45pm kick off, Great Britain v Uruguay. After all the arguing over whether or not Team GB should even exist and, if it did, whether Wales internationals should join in this is a big day for several Welsh stars. Swansea stars Joe Allen and Neil Taylor will have the unusual experience of being cheered on by a Cardiff crowd while for Aaron Ramsey will return to the town where his career took off and Craig Bellamy and Ryan Giggs get chance to play on the green green grass of home. Great Britain has two gold medals, but the last was over a century ago. Uruguay have won gold every time they’ve appeared at the finals – in 1924 and 1928 – and have a strong squad with Liverpool’s Luis Suarez the over-age captain.
August 3, 5pm kick-off runners up of group E v runners up of group F in the women’s tournament. It’s down to the quarter-final stage and this match could easily see the Team GB women back in Cardiff.
August 4, 7.30pm kick-off winners of group A v runners up of group B in the men’s tournament. If Team GB win their group they’ll be in the Millennium again to face Gabon, Switzerland, Mexico or South Korea.
August 10, 7.45pm kick-off, the Bronze Medal Final men’s tournament. While all British fans will hope their boys will be waiting for the Wembley final the next day this could be another chance for Wales fans to cheer on their heroes. In fact if the bookies are right they’ll be facing Uruguay to take third spot.
Outside Of The Arena
If you can’t get tickets to the games there’s a big screen showing the games in The Hayes where a gaggle of plastic farm animals have been grazing since last week. It’s right in the heart of town and you might even hear the cheers from the fans in the ground if you watch a Millennium fixture here.
Given, Wales’ love of all things sporting, you won’t struggle to find a pub or bar showing lycra clad heroes sweating it out. Boxing fans might want to make a pilgrimage to the statue of ‘Peerless’ Jim Driscoll in Bute Terrace, or head out of town for a pint of Brain’s in the Royal Oak pub on Newport Road – the pub, which used to be owned by Driscoll’s descendants, is a shrine to local boxers whose pictures cover the walls of the main bar.
If watching all that sporting effort is getting you either in the mood or exhausted then take a look at Cardiff International White Water in the sports village close to the shiny new Cardiff Bay development. They’re running a host of special offers over the summer. (http://www.ciww.com/content.asp?nav=4&parent_directory_id=1&id=169)
Also down on Cardiff’s waterfront, the Wales Millennium Centre is playing host to a work inspired by the games. In Water I'm Weightless is a production of the National Theatre Wales featuring a deaf and disabled cast and has been described as poignant, funny, radical and athletic. (http://www.wmc.org.uk/Productions/2012-2013/18961/weightless/?view=Standard) The area boasts some beautiful views, boat trips and is a gourmet’s delight too. A spectacular new Doctor Who exhibition should keep sci-fi fans happy too.
There’s more traditional showbiz at the WMC too as the run of Hollywood-inspired musical Sister Act crosses its finishing line on August 4, before going all Disney for a visit by Mickey Mouse and friends from August 8. (http://www.wmc.org.uk/Productions/2012-2013/18959/55024/?view=Standard)
In Cardiff Castle, the Firing Line museum dedicated to the Welsh military is using the London games as an excuse for a look A Sporting Life in Welsh regiments – very good a bobsleigh would you believe.
If sport runs in Welsh veins, then music is the heartbeat, and there’s a fun interactive event at St David’s Hall, MusicMix is a free five day music course for 14-18-year-olds that will culminate in a live performance. You can find out more at the Arts Active website. (http://artsactive.org.uk/)
The Olympic rings have been proudly on display in front of the city’s world-famous Civic Centre and it’s here you’ll find the National Museum. Always worth a visit, the current exhibitions of story book artist Anthony Browne’s magical work and the stunning natural imagery in the prestigious Veolia Environment Wildlife Photographer are perfect for family visits.