[REAL VERSION] London 2012

REAL VERSION

Full coverage on NBC through August 12

Slugs Invade the Olympics

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    NEWSLETTERS

    In a stunning bit of Olympic irony, some of nature's slowest creatures are standing, or rather oozing, alongside the world class sprinters and swimmers who are setting record times at the 2012 London Summer Games.

    Its all happening in the shadow of London's Olympic Stadium where this week stars like Usain Bolt will fly by in blurs, the seconds split into decimal points.

    Slugs, thousands of them, slither across sidewalks in London's Olympic Park.  The area is a former brownfield site which was converted to Olympic use through the demolition of a complex of blighted buildings.  Thousands of trees and flowers were planted, and streams trickle between Olympic venues.

    The slugs are not the garden variety, Chicago-style, lawn creatures which sometimes appear on your driveway and are about the size of a third of your pinky finger.  These are Mothra-type monsters, some three or four inches long (see photo with reporter's shoe for comparison).  They are most evident at night.

    It is especially advisable when one walks through down the sidewalk in the grassy meadow which was created for the Olympic Park, that one watches where he or she steps.  Otherwise, it could be a rather, er, "squishy" experience.

    On that same note, a word about the crowds.  They have been overwhelming:  2.1 million people in the first three days of competition.  By mid-afternoon the Olympic Park is packed with people, many expressing their enthusiasm in colorful outfits of nationalistic glory.  So many people have shown up at the adjacent Westfield shopping center, that entrance to the mall is being limited to those with venue or park tickets.  A spokesman said that was, in part, to encourage them to see the "other sights in London."

    Indeed, it is evident that some in the Olympic Park are just there to soak up the Olympic experience.  Organizers built a huge television screen in the meadow, with tiered seating available for those who simply want to sit outdoors and watch events.  And thousands have availed themselves of that opportunity.

    It's a festive atmosphere:  grab a pint, watch team GB try to knock those blokes Phelps and Lochte off their colonial high horses!

    Just be careful where you sit!