The Olympic Athletic Center of Athens, also known as OAKA (oh-ahh-kaah), was built in 1982 and has hosted many athletic events, the most prized being the generic Olympic games in 2004 and now the 2011 Special Olympics World Games. I knew it would be very special walking up to, and entering that marble floored stadium-yes, marble on all the floors! For the World Games, she was decorated up just beautifully and I had goosebumps walking thru the tunnel and out onto the track. It's 9 lanes, like many tracks in the world, Mondo covered running surface, and fitted with perfect long jump pits. My dream track.
The '04 Olympic rings were painted over sadly and the seating, for the most part, empty. But damn, this was Olympic Stadium! For us coaches, reaching down to just touch the track, was something 99% of the planet would never understand, but we did. I so wished that first day I could have taken a lap around it, but we were scurried around to quickly check out the manicured sand in the pits, the high jump, staging and awards areas. Then off to the head coaches meeting. Enough of all that, this was to become my home for the next 9 days and it was perfect. I couldn't wait to get back to the team and tell them about this place and how proud they would be to compete here.
It was an good 45 minute bus ride from our housing to OAKA, and I did enjoy that quiet time every morning- it was time to ready myself for the day ahead. Leaving so early usually put us, Team USA Athletics, inside the stadium first. I loved watching the sun slowly rise up across the far side of the track and cast those long shadows of the workers putting the final touches on the facility. I couldn't help put make photographs of this place....pretty much every single day. I couldn't help it-whether the images were good or not, I just had a need to shoot here.
The design of the stadium has been described as: The curve line “identical to a bow and a lyre” as per Heracletus – which combines competition with music and culture, the body with the soul and the spirit – takes form and becomes the main architectural element in a modern facility of sport and culture, where the past and the present aim toward the future, where the visible and imaginary curve unites Greek antiquity with contemporary Olympic reality.
I describe it as beautiful.
|Dawn at Olympic Stadium-Athens|