Olympic ticket hopefuls face an anxious wait
This was not my usual start to the day.
I was wide awake, laptop ready, before Breakfast television had even gone on air. Around the country hundreds of thousands of people were doing exactly the same. Kettles were boiling and fingers were being loosened ahead of what we all knew was going to be a mad scramble for Olympic tickets.
0600 BST was the appointed opening time of the second round sales. London 2012 organisers had always been nervous that their system would struggle to cope with the demand. If they'd hoped that this 0600 BST start would deter the less enthusiastic, they were wrong. Up and down streets alarms had been going off from 0530 BST.
Only those who'd missed out in the first ballot were entitled to buy tickets today - that was a total of 1.2m people. I was one of them.
I'm very fortunate, as I'll be working at the Games next year, so my desperation to get hold of a ticket is much less than for many of you. I struggle to imagine how anxious I'd have been this morning if I, like most of you, knew that the minutes after the 0600 BST alarm might determine whether I'd ever make it into the Olympic Park.
I'd made thorough preparations for today's process. Like everybody else, I'd studied the list of available sessions. In the end I'd decided to plump for beach volleyball. There were still some tickets available to the quarter-finals on a Saturday evening. These were bound to be popular, so I was well aware that I'd need to get in quick.
By 0558 BST I was already logged onto the London 2012 website and refreshing the list of beach volleyball sessions. At 0600 BST exactly the availability appeared. Quick as a flash I chose my session and went straight to the checkout basket. This was first come first served, so snooze and you're going to lose.
By 0601 BST my card details had been entered and my payment was processing. Within another 15 seconds I'd been asked for the password to verify my bank card - the final stage. It almost seemed too good to be true. Sadly, it was. For a minute nothing happened, and then I received the following message: 'Sorry, we are unable to process your application'.
I was directed back to the start again. No time to question why. Time was of the essence. I went through the same process. Minutes later came the same result, 'Sorry, we are unable to process your application'.
Re-assurance came via Twitter. Thousands of people were enduring a similar experience. The London 2012 site was slowing down close to a standstill. Eventually I was able to return to my account page. The message that greeted me came as a surprise. I was informed that I could no longer apply as I had already submitted an application. There was even a reference number. Presumably one of my two previous attempts had been successful after all? But London 2012 told us that we would receive an email confirming our application. I and I know via Twitter, many others, have not received that email.
I won't find out until the weekend if my application did go through, and if it was successful. I fear that many people who applied for the most popular athletics tickets might have a nasty shock over the next couple of days when they find out that they weren't first come so ended up not being served. If that is the case then those people are going to be understandably frustrated, as by then there will probably only be football tickets remaining.
I can have no complaint. There will never be a better time to be a BBC sports correspondent than in London next summer. But I do feel for those of you who struggled in the same way that I did this morning. I know how much many of you care about the Olympics, and how much it means to be able to take up this once in a lifetime opportunity of watching the Games on home soil.
The real test of this second round process will come over the weekend when everybody finds out which tickets they got. If we all end up with what we think we bought, then nobody's going to worry that the site was slow for half an hour. If my worst fears are realised, and many miss out altogether for a second time, then Lord Coe and his team will rightly face some very tough questions.
In the meantime Coe could be forgiven for spending some of his time counting all the cash that's been raised. If he logs onto the London 2012 bank account he'll see that his organisation is about £400m better off than it was in April. That's how much has already been raised from ticket sales, out of an eventual target of £500m. It's an extraordinary achievement.
I've had many conversations with the London 2012 organisers over the years about predictions for demand on tickets. I was always confident that by July 2012 the Games (apart from football) would have sold out - others were less so - but never in my wildest dreams did I believe that more than a year out from the start of the Olympics, people would be setting alarms for 0530 BST just to have a chance of snapping up the few remaining handball tickets.
Many of you have strong views about the ticketing process, and I know that the majority believe that there are flaws, but it's important that we also reflect the incredible success in terms of demand. We are a nation of sports lovers - there are too many of us who want to go to the Games. That's always been the fundamental problem.
What Lord Coe and his team have managed to do is turn that interest in sport and the Olympics into a burning desire for tickets, almost regardless of the event. He's persuaded people to buy into the Olympic experience. Our own personal struggles to get hold of tickets are largely due to the exceptional demand which has been generated.
The success of the ticket sales have massively reduced the risk that the Games will make a loss. That's good news for everybody, as otherwise the government is responsible for picking up the tab.
But - and this is a big but - a price has been paid. Many people have been left feeling disillusioned. The next big challenge for the organisers is to turn public opinion back onto their side. An important first step will come this weekend if today's early risers find out that the process has actually worked and they receive the tickets that they're expecting.