Spectators feel the heat as Athens Games fire up
Updated: 2004-08-14 21:38
Olympic swimming was an extremely hot sport on Saturday, at least for the
While those in the water had few complaints about the blazing Athens heat, it
was a different story for the paying public and press as the mercury crept up to
around 37 degrees Celsius at the open-air Aquatic Centre.
Reporters sheltered under umbrellas or crouched behind makeshift cardboard
screens to guard against the glare, heads covered in towels to prevent the sweat
dripping onto baking keyboards.
"You can only last for a couple of races and then you need to go and stand
outside in the shade and wait for the breeze to kick in," said American visitor
Leslie Lanne, watching sister Colleen help qualify the US team for the 4x100
metres freestyle relay final.
"But I'm originally from Arizona and it gets a lot hotter there," said the
It was a similar story elsewhere, with cycling officials handing out light
blue Athens 2004 umbrellas in the sweltering press seating area.
The world's top athletes, with ice vests and a range of hi-tech materials to
help them keep cool, expressed few concerns.
Tennis players, used to the heat of Australia and tournaments around the
world, shrugged off the conditions: "We are all professional athletes, we will
be okay," said British medal hope Tim Henman.
"The heat did not affect me at all because in Brazil we're used to competing
more or less like it is here," said 400 metres individual medley swimmer Lucas
Andrew Mackay of the Cayman Islands said: "We're from the Caribbean so we're
used to this but it's definitely really hot here. The goal is just to stay in
the shade and then get out there and race even though it's hot.
"The sun gets in your eyes but that is what tinted goggles are for."
The Aquatics Centre was supposed to have a roof but that idea was shelved
before the Games due to construction delays -- a good thing according to some.
"I think it would have blocked the breeze and probably made it even worse,"
At the softball venue, spectators were warned every couple of innings to
drink plenty of liquid while officials handed out bottles of water at the
"It's very, very dry out there," gasped British rowing hope James Cracknell,
who helped his coxless four qualify for the semi-final.
An old-fashioned beach hat and lashings of sun cream might have been good
enough for some but not for the finely honed athletes bidding for glory in the
world's biggest sporting spectacle.
The Dutch rowing crew wore kit made from a special cooling material,
reflecting the sun and dispersing body heat by allowing sweat to evaporate more
There was more conventional attire at the popular beach volleyball venue,
where almost all the public seats were out in the open and spectators basked in