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Home Kent News Article
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!
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