London 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony – Live coverage – Updated 12.55am

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by Alex Hoad at the Olympic Stadium

The London 2012 Olympic Games is officially open and we
were in the stands for the Opening Ceremony to bring you
as much of the colour, atmosphere and spectacle as possible as
the Greatest Show on Earth got under way.

Update – 12.55am – Well that’s it. It’s over. Really just an
incredible night. The Games of the 30th Olympiad are open. The
world is now watching London.

So many highlights, just impossible to pick one, but I’ll
never forget the absolutely ridiculous welcome for the British
athletes. Spine-tingling.

I’ll be back with you in a few hours time when I’ll be
heading to Eton Dorney to see if Ashford’s Tom Ransley and the
men’s eight can progress in the opening round of the rowing
regatta.

Keep following me on twitter – @kentonline2012 – for all
your live updates throughout the Games.

Hope that ceremony has made you feel a little better about
being British. It certainly has done for me.

12.45am – Sir Paul McCartney singing Hey Jude. The big
hitters keep on coming. Very proud to be British. This has been a
good night.

12.37am – The flame’s been on a lap of the stadium thanks to a
group of seven future Olympic stars who have each been nominated by
legends including Kelly Holmes and Sir Steve Redgrave.

There was also a guard of honour from 500 people who helped
build the Olympic Park and more than 200 British past medal
winners.

The seven youngsters carried the flames into the centre of the
stadium and ignited a cauldron formed from copper petals, each
of which were carried through the athletes parade by individual
countries before being passed into the middle of the stadium
floor.

The cauldron has been a closely guarded secret and was designed
by Thomas Heatherwick. The petals were gifted to each international
association upon their arrival in the UK

And now THAT was a firework display! Very full-on with those.
Felt so close.

12.30am – Emotional scenes as Muhammed Ali emerges
to join the flag procession. The Olympic anthem followed and now
we’re going through the oaths.

Elsewhere a speedboat with David Beckham in
just passed the Olympic flame on to Sir Steve Redgrave
who is running towards the stadium with it.

12.19am: Speeches done. The Queen declares the Games open.
Fireworks. Lots of them. The Olympic flag is about to be
hoisted.

12.04am – Morning! The show is back on. Great
performance by the Arctic Monkeys. Going to be at least half an
hour more. Here’s Seb Coe and IOC President Jacques
Rogge.

11.59pm: That was unbelievable. Driscoll bouncing about and
the place just genuinely going bonkers. Passed the news at the same
time that the flame lighting will be a collaborative effort, but
there is no place for a chap named David Beckham.

11.54pm: Nearly there. Kat Driscoll is in the fourth
row. Jack Oliver plans to join flag-bearer Sir Chris Hoy
apparently. Bet he bottles it.

11.45pm: Almost there. South Africa bounced through like a
Tasmanian Devil (I know, wrong country!) and we’re almost at
TeamGB. I want to know who’s lighting the flame and how they’re
doing it. Anyone else?

11.25pm: We’re at Norway. They’re playing 120bpm dance
music to encourage the athletes to walk faster apparently! Very
cunning.

11.05pm: We’re about half-way through the parade so looking
like over half an hour to go until TeamGB are here.

Unfortunately many of our local athletes are not going to be
taking part, they have some kind of sporting event to get up and
win tomorrow, while others are still training in Portugal.

I’ll try and see who’ve we’ve got in there though. I know
Kat Driscoll is outside the Stadium and getting increasingly
excited.

We’ll also look out for South Africa shall we? Hockey star
Jen Wilson’s pretty much an adopted-Canterburyite.

10.45pm – Ok China and Canada have usurped those
boisterous Aussies as the loudest cheers so far! I’d place a shiny
penny on the fact that the loudest will be the last.

Surprising number of Columbians here. Olympic Spirit is
everywhere.

Just so you know, after the parade is over there’s still
plenty more ceremony. There’s the celebration of the bicycle and
then some Olympic i-dotting and T-crossing like speeches, hoisting
of flags, singing of Olympic anthems and swearing of
oaths.

THEN it’s the bit that everyone is speculating about….
who will light the flame and how will they do it. Some of the
rumours I’ve heard are absolutely brilliant.

After that, if you haven’t had enough, there’s some
music from a chap named Sir Paul McCartney to round us off
nicely!

10.35pm – We’re well into the parade of athletes now. Well, 29
down of the 205 who’ll be joining us. As expected, huge cheers for
Australia and Brazil.

10.20pm – Sombre dance performance dramatising the
struggle between life and death, all with Abide with Me perfomed as
a back-drop. It’s a bit of a choker actually.

This is the last section before the parade starts!
Anyone know who is traditionally the first country out on the
track? Nooooo, it’s Greece! They came up with this thing! The rest
of the countries will come in alphabetical order apart from Team GB
who will be last, so you have time to go and put the kettle
on!

10.10pm – Live performance from East Londoner Dizzee Rascal
in the middle of all that went down well. Berners-Lee typed ‘this
is for everyone!’ on an old-school computer. Thanks Tim!

I think it’s going to mellow-up a little in a sec. Abide
with Me and memorials are the theme.

10pm – Very fun run-through of British music from the
60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and we’re gradually catching up to present day
with references to social media and the internet, brainchild of
Brit Tim Berners-Lee.

We given the world some really good music. And some very
talented dancers too by the looks of it.

9.45pm – More music from the London Symphony Orchestra at the
end of the NHS segment – which rather scarily featured some really
bad villains from British literature.

Mr Bean is now playing Chariots of Fire. I don’t know what
else to say.

9.35pm – Rousing rendition of God Save the Queen and
now we’re into the next section which celebrates British creations
like the NHS, Great Ormond Street Hospital and we’ll soon be
hearing some Great British literature from a very famous British
author.

9.30pm – Well that industrial revolution was busy, and
smelly, but I think we should all be grateful. Now we have James
Bond and the Queen arriving at the Olympic Stadium in
style!

9.15pm – We’ve seen Kenneth Branagh dressed as Isambard
Kingdom Brunel reading from The Tempest and now we have 965
drummers, 50 more Brunels and countless workers showing us how the
industrial revolution changed Britain in the 19th
century.

9.05 – Wow. Goosebumps everywhere. Bradley Wiggins rang the bell
I mentioned earlier after a rousing video montage of London and now
a lovely rendition of Jerusalem mixed with Oh Danny Boy, Flower of
Scotland and Bread of Heaven.

8.58 – Rousing classical music, blue silk seas, the shipping
forecast, goosebumps, rousing cheers. One minute to go.

8.51pm – Less than 10 minutes until the Ceremony
begins. The warm-up is over. The lovely British countryside scene
is the centre of attention. An atrocious game of football has
broken out in the meadow. And now there’s maypole
dancing.

8.40pm – Danny Boyle has come out to welcome everyone and insist
that his show is merely a warm-up for the athletes coming into the
Stadium later. We’ll see….

More folk music while on the stadium floor there’s a game of
cricket going on on the ‘village green’ while a shocking game of
badminton is taking part in a nearby meadow. They don’t even have a
net.

One thing to look out for later is the super-colourful audience
participation sections. Each seat has a flashing light-box built
into it and all waved simultaneously it’s quite a sight!

8.35pm – Sadly the rain has arrived and the brollies are
out in the lower tier, which is uncovered. However the compere is
leading everyone in a rousing rendition of ‘I’m forever blowing
bubbles…’ Lot of West Ham fans here it would seem!

8.25pm – Folk music and audience participation games are
going on here. The Ceremony proper starts at 9pm.

8.12pm – The Red Arrows have just blasted over,
having taken off in Manston. This place is buzzing. There’s a
compere on stage and everyone seems just so ready to clap and
cheer.

8.05pm – Lots of nice animals have been led into the stadium.
Ready for the numbers? 34 animal handlers with 12 shire horses,
three cows, two goats, 10 chickens, 10 ducks, nine geese and three
sheep dogs. Oh, and don’t count the sheep, you’ll fall asleep,
there’s 40 of them!

Lovely sound of birds tweeting being piped into the Stadium.
It’s just like Kent!

Update: 7.45pm – I have never seen so many different
flags in one place. And I’m not including the ones hanging from the
roof here at the Stadium. There are people wrapped in massive,
colourful flags from every continent. I’m literally looking at a
chap in a German flag sat next to a chap in what looks like a
Zimbabwean flag with a family of Union Jack-clad Brits sat
immediately infront of them.

This is awesome. The giant screen just flashed up a clip
of David Beckham talking about Legacy and the place went
nuts.

Update: 7.40pm – The giant bell at one end of the stadium is
going to be used to end the countdown to the Games, just so’s you
know! I am reliably informed that it is the biggest
harmonically-tuned bell in existence. Pretty impressive really!

Oh, and I haven’t forgotten about other people involved in the
ceremony from Kent. I know we have lots of volunteers taking part
in the show itself, as well as helping around the Park and making
sure everything goes smoothly behind the scenes.

This is swiftly turning into a night everyone can be proud
of!

Update: 7.30pm – The atmosphere here is picking up.
There’s a real buzz around the crowd and the Mexican waves have
begun. God Bless the Brits, we know how to kill time at major
sporting events, thanks to Wimbledon probably!

Anyway, while we have a dozen-plus Kent athletes
taking part in these Games, there are countless more residents who
will be involved in getting the Greatest Show on Earth up and
running.

Lots of Kent schoolchildren will actually be llining
the athletes’ route into the stadium for the Parade
later-on.

It’s all part of KCC’s 20in12 education
programme, which helps the schoolkids get involved in Olympic and
Paralympic experiences.

The Guard of Honour will see each
school representing a different country in the
Games.

Meopham (Gravesham) will represent
the Central African Republic, Knockhall Community Primary
(Dartford) will be North Korea, Valence School
(Sevenoaks) are for Haiti, St John’s RC Comprehensive School
(Gravesham) for Hong Kong, Hayesbrook School (Tonbridge and
Malling) for Mali, Lenham Primary School (Maidstone) for Slovenia,
Brompton Academy (Medway) for Senegal, Highworth Grammar School
(Ashford) for Sudan, Bennett Memorial Diocesan School (Tunbridge
Wells) for Sweden, and Chaucer Technology School (Canterbury) for
Virgin Islands U.S.
 
I’ve got to say, what a fantastic opportunity. I hope they all
enjoy it.

Update: 7.15pm – The place is filling up nicely and I’m sure
you have seen that the Stadium floor has been transformed into the
Green and Pleasant Land. I am told it is the Britain of the Wind in
the Willows or Winnie the Pooh, but personally I keep expecting to
see a Hobbit frolicking around.

UPDATE: 6.15pm – I’m here nice and early and I can only
really tell you one thing. This looks like it’s going to be
amazing.

We are under strict instructions not to ‘spoil the
surprise’ so I will not be tweeting any pics of the scenery which
is laid out across the entire floor of the stadium just yet and I
shan’t describe any of the eye-catching props and themes which are
hiding on the stadium concourse.

Just know that there are some!

 

Friday, July 27 2012

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