Bolt leads charge as Olympics opens
LONDON, England — Just after 11:00 pm here (5:00 pm Jamaica time) global sprinting star Usain Bolt led the Jamaican team into the impressive Olympic Stadium in Stratford, East London during the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games to signal the official start of Jamaica's campaign at the XXX Olympiad.
Bolt, the double sprint world record holder, waved the huge Jamaican flag in front of a capacity 80,000 spectators, including Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller and Jamaica's High Commissioner to London Aloun N’Dombet Assamba.
The Jamaican women were resplendent in their bright yellow jackets and the men in darker green or black, designed by Cedella Marley; the Jamaicans were a big hit among the audience that had started gathering from as early as 5:00 pm for an impressive Opening Ceremony.
Jamaica was 94th on the list of 205 nations that paraded behind their nations’ flags. A second member of Bolt's Racers Track Club based in Mona, Daniel Bailey, was also a flag bearer as he led the delegation from Antigua and Barbuda.
An estimated global audience of four billion watched the Opening Ceremony that celebrated everything British down to a slight drizzle midway the proceedings.
Prior to the televised section, the sold out Olympic Stadium was transformed into a scene from the English literature book Wind in the Willows in a rustic English village out of the 18th century where costumed actors played cricket and football, while farm scenes with live animals — horses, sheep, cows and goats — were depicted.
Rain had been in the forecast but even nature showed deference to the ‘Greatest Show on Earth’.
Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki Moon appeared in a video message calling on warring nations to lay down arms and celebrate peace, the essence of the Olympic Games and the United Nations.
Cyclist Bradley Wiggings, who became the first Briton to win the Tour de France last week, marked the end of the Olympic countdown by ringing the Olympic Bell, which was specially made for the Olympic Stadium and is the largest harmonically tuned bell in the world, a release said.
Dubbed ‘Isle of Wonder’, the Opening Ceremony was themed ‘This is for Everyone’, a phrase credited to British scientist Tim Berners-Lee. The ceremony was a celebration of the creativity, exuberance and, above all, generosity of the British people.
It was meant to take the audience through the great revolutions in British society — The Industrial Revolution, the revolutions of social attitudes that began in the 1960s and the digital revolution through which we are now living, Danny Boyle, the artistic director, said in notes in the programme.
A cast of 7,500 volunteers from all over the world and from all continents came together for ceremony which produced goose bumps, the result of 284 rehearsals.
From William Shakespeare to JK Rowling; the music in its varied forms through the generations, film, television and even the weather, everything British was celebrated.
British Monarch Queen Elizabeth II, who is celebrating her 60th year on the throne, appeared in her first film role and was depicted as jumping out of a helicopter with James Bond actor Daniel Craig.
The appearance of Rowan Atkinson, better known as ‘Mr Bean’, as a member of the London Philharmonic in a rendition of Chariots of Fire, the multi-award winning 1981 film about two British runners in the 1924 Olympics, drew loud applause.