London 2012

I think you’d be hard pushed to find many in London who aren’t enjoying the 2012 Olympics. Now that we’re into the second week of the games and the forecast of travel chaos and congested city streets have proved mostly unfounded, as far as I can tell the vast majority of people in and around London have been won over by the Olympic effect. It also helps enormously that Team GB are having one of their most successful Olympics ever! There have been some amazing highlights so far and it’s not over yet.

It all started off with a spectacular Opening Ceremony orchestrated by filmmaker Danny Boyle. This proved to be jaw-dropping and left me asking myself constantly “How have they managed to do that?”.  It began a little twee with a nice little ditty of stereotypical songs from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland blended nicely into one another accompanied by flyby shots of school choirs singing beside iconic locations across the UK. ‘What was to come next’ I  thought, worrying that Danny Boyle had opted to go down a safe and conservative route for the night. As the action moved into the beautiful (*more on this later) Olympic Stadium, out came Kenneth Branagh looking a tad smug in character top hat and tails, portraying Isambard Kingdom Brunel the audacious and innovative Victorian Engineer. This is where the technical genius kicked off to an epic show highlighting parts of the UK’s generous history and achievements. This included works of children’s literature (with guest spots for J K Rowling and a huge, terrifying Lord Voldemort who is defeated inexplicably by a troupe of Mary Poppins), the NHS, various music scenes and er Mr Bean [feat. Mike Oldfield].

Of course James Bond had to make an appearance, but not many would have believed that Danny Boyle would have been able to convince the Queen herself to take part in a comedic skit alongside Bond himself. Daniel Craig struts his way along some very regal looking corridors entering a room to stand waiting for a chair to turn around to reveal the Queen. At first I thought they’d hired a look-a-like but no they’d got the real deal and she gamefully went along with it sportingly. She leads Bond out of the room, boards a helicopter which whisks them off across London. Hundreds of feet above the Olympic Stadium, we see Bond and HM don parachutes before taking the jump over the Stadium. Of course, it was not really HM (or Daniel Craig for that matter!) but they appeared in stadium as if they had taken the plummet. Good for her for going along with a great bit of British humour. This was something I liked about the opening ceremony, it’s humanity, warmth and flashes of comedy. It is a celebration of what we do well.

There were also some nice touches of remembrance, with a beautiful song by Emeli Sande and a dance movement remembering those who were no longer with us.

The stadium had initially disappointed me in the run up to the Games. After the architecturally brilliant Bird’s Nest Stadium in Beijing four years previously, our stadium just seemed a bit bland. However it was transformed into something quite beautiful and alive with light and spectacle. Each seat had a ‘pixel’ which was a pad of LEDs which were controlled centrally to make the audience essentially become a giant LED tv. Amazing technology that was incredibly effective.

After the amazing show culminated, it was time for the procession of the represented countries. It was a long procession. Can’t say much more than that, except I feel for the drummers who played through the entirety of the procession. Traditionally, it began with Greece walking out to a cheering 80,000 strong crowd and culminated with Team GB being greeted with deafening cheers in the Olympic Stadium. Each country waved and smiled excitedly and was accompanied by a mysterious copper petal. This would be explained later, as each petal was added to a pipe which would eventually form the Olympic Flame. It was a magnificent Flame and work of art.

Weeks before the games had began, many had spoken about David Beckham’s lack of placing within Team GB’s football team. He had done so much to help bring the games to London in the run up but I think the right choice was made to give his spot to younger, fresher talent. He has after all achieved so much in his career, it’s only fair others could be given the chance to play for their country in the Olympics in London. Still, he did get his own little moment in the spotlight as the countdown began for the Olympic torch to make it’s way into the Olympic Stadium. Cut to a speedboat tearing down the Thames with David steering (done up as Bond) with the torch perched nicely on the front of the boat. On arriving at the stadium, Sir Steve Redgrave relayed the torch into the stadium. The secrecy behind who was going to carry the torch was very tight and when I saw that Steve had taken the torch, I had a tinge of letdown, but he wasn’t to be the one, or the only one in fact. He passed the torch onto a series of young athletes who in unison ignited the Olympic Flame. This sat very nicely with me, as the taglines for these Games were “This Is For Everyone” and “Legacy”, and what better symbol to light the symbolic flame than with future generations with the potential to become great athletes.

The Games were officially declared open by The Queen. Lord Sebastian Coe and the IOC man (don’t know his name) standing amongst the many represented country’s flags on a mock-up of a terribly British-looking green and grassy hill, spoke about what the Games represent and what we must strive for. Amongst thunderous cheers and applause the Games were open and the fireworks lit the night sky. Welcome to London 2012!

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. smc
    Aug 08, 2012 @ 00:09:38

    Well done Paul, great bit of writing – have to say I never thought I would watch as much as I have done, or… Find some events so gosh darn emotional! It’s been awesome. I am looking forward to Paralympics as well & I really hope they get the recognition they deserve too. I also hope C4 do a good job of reporting as the BBC have done. After the criticism of the Beeb over the Jubilee simpering, I think the level of excitement and enthusiasm for the games has been brilliant. Well done BBC 🙂

    Reply

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