Opening ceremony a night to remember for Olympic Aussies

The Australian Olympic Team shone at the London 2012 Opening Ceremony, with over a billion people around the world watching on as Lauren Jackson lead our Aussie Olympic hopefuls out as part of Danny Boyle’s showcase spectacular.

 
 
2012 Olympic Games - Opening Ceremony

Australia’s Olympians marched into the main stadium in London in a spectacular opening ceremony to the 2012 Olympic Games.   

Just over 200 of Australia’s 410-strong team took part, led by flag bearer Lauren Jackson in their bottle green blazers and white trousers and skirts.

Australia, one of only three nations to have competed at every modern summer Olympics, were given a rousing ovation from the crowd of almost 80,000 as they entered after the tiny island nation of Aruba and before Austria.

The front line of Australian athletes behind Jackson was made up of five-time Olympian Natalie Cook and seven others at their fourth Games, as well as defending gold medallists, kayaker Ken Wallace and sailor Elise Rechichi.

Many of Australia’s biggest medal hopes, including the cyclists, rowers and swimmers were missing the march, watching back at the athletes village as they prepared for competition.  

Meanwhile, it was The Queen who was a surprising star of the show when she starred as the latest Bond girl in a quirky and quintessentially British opening to London’s record third Olympic Games.Elizabeth II stunned not just her own subjects but the wider world by playing her part in an elaborate spoof which purported to show her and 007 star Daniel Craig parachuting from a helicopter into the 2012 Games stadium.

No such thing happened but the 86-year-old monarch made her movie debut to make the hoax possible, delighting Britons with her remarkable display of majestic humour.

The Queen’s tongue-in-cheek cameo stole the show, especially after the organisers opted to break with tradition and not use an Olympic champion to light the Olympic flame as Cathy Freeman did at Sydney 2000.

Instead the task was performed jointly by seven young British athletes, who received the Olympic flame from rowing great Sir Steve Redgrave after being taken up the Thames by soccer superstar David Beckham.

The stunt capped a £27million opening ceremony watched by an estimated one billion on television worldwide and attended by people such as US first lady Michelle Obama and some 80 heads of state or government.

The Queen, whose father opened the last London Games in 1948, performed the ritual for the second time after officiating at Montreal in 1976.

The Royal welcoming committee was out in force, featuring Prince Philip, Prince Charles and Camilla, Prince William and Catherine, and Prince Harry.

The opening spectacular was a celebration of everything that has put the great into Great Britain.

Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins rang the giant Olympic bell.

JK Rowling, the most popular author in history, read from JM Barrie’s children’s classic Peter Pan.

Sir Paul McCartney got the audience singing along to ‘Hey Jude’.

The Royal Air Force’s Red Arrows team screamed overhead, leaving a trail of patriotic smoke in red, white and blue, and a score of Mary Poppins descended from the heavens under umbrellas.

Sheep, cows, horses and geese played key roles in the ceremony as a tableau of England’s “green and pleasant land” formed the centrepiece.

The rural setting later dramatically changed into a depiction of the industrial revolution as seven giant smokestacks belching fumes rose from beneath the ground.

The four countries that make up Great Britain were represented musically by their best loved anthems – Jerusalem, Danny Boy, Flower Of Scotland and Bread Of Heaven.

In keeping with the 2012 theme, London’s famous Big Ben clock in Westminster chimed non-stop for three minutes at precisely 12 minutes past eight (2012) and ticket prices ranged from 20 pounds and 12 pence to a staggering 2,012 pounds. 

The memorable night set the stage for superstars Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps and Roger Federer to dazzle in competition over the Olympic fortnight at iconic venues including Wimbledon, Lord’s cricket ground and Hyde Park.

Australia’s hopes of regaining a top five place in the medal table will be led by two world champions, swimmer James Magnussen and hurdler Sally Pearson. Magnussen will endeavour to put his shock 4x100m freestyle relay loss behind him when he takes the blocks in the 100m freestyle final on Wednesday, while Pearson will be hoping for hurdle gold in the Olympic Stadium next Tuesday (7 August).