Sir Chris Hoy had the honour of carrying the Union Jack and leading Team GB into the Olympic stadium, after Bradley Wiggins tolled the bell on a stunning London 2012 opening ceremony.
Above: Bradley Wiggins rings the bell and begins Danny Boyle's British odyssey, tolling Europe's largest tuned bell at the start of the opening ceremony. (Image: Charlie Riedel/AP/Press Association Images)
The £27 million opening ceremony, brainchild of acclaimed film director Danny Boyle, was entitled ‘Isle of Wonder’ and began at 9pm, with Bradley Wiggins honoured with the task of sounding the largest harmonically tuned bell in Europe, produced by the Whitechapel Foundry, as the Olympic stadium was transformed into depiction of rural Britain.
The opening scene, ‘Green and Pleasant’, included real farmyard animals, before the show moved on to celebrate British culture and the culture of the host city, from the agrarian through the industrial and digital ages.
Speaking of the ceremony Boyle said: “Our Isles of Wonder salutes and celebrates the exuberant creativity of the British genius in an Opening Ceremony that we hope will be as unpredictable and inventive as the British people.’
Over 15,000 performers took part in the lavish ceremony, with an estimated TV audience of four billion people tuning in.
After a moving redition of 'Abide with Me' by Scottish performer Emeli Sande, the athlete parade followed, with Team GB, as host nation emerging last, as is the Olympic tradition. Sir Chris Hoy led the Team GB athletes bearing the Union Jack, the multiple world and Olympic champion carrying with it the hopes of the nation for the next 16 days of competition.
Above: Sir Chris Hoy leads Team GB amid a flurry of confetti during the athlete's parade. (Image: Mark Humphrey/AP/Press Association Images)
Hoy, who will face his first event on Thursday 2 August, in the Men’s Team Sprint, expressed his honour at being selected as flagbearer earlier in the week: “I’m absolutely delighted and honoured to have been voted as the flag bearer for Team GB. To lead out your team at a home Olympics is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity and one that I can’t wait to experience in just a few days’ time.”
British Cycling President Brian Cookson OBE said; “To be selected as a flag bearer at any Olympic Games is a great honour but to be selected for the home Games is an extra special achievement and I’d like to personally congratulate Sir Chris.
“Chris has been an outstanding ambassador to the sport of cycling throughout his extensive career, and we’re proud that he is a fellow member of British Cycling. To have Chris carry the flag on behalf of Great Britain is another milestone in the success of cycling in Britain.”
Following the athlete parade, LOCOG Chair Lord Coe and Jacques Rogge, President of the International Olympic Committee, gave speeches before Her Majesty the Queen officially declared the beginning of the XXX Olympiad, the ceremony culminating with the symbolic lighting of the Olympic Cauldron.
Great Britain’s first medal opportunity in cycling comes tomorrow at 10am, when Mark Cavendish heads up the team in the Men’s Road Race. We’ll have full coverage of the Men’s Road Race and all the Olympic cycling, here on www.britishcycling.org.uk, with previews, reports, live Twitter commentary and post race reaction throughout the Road, Track, BMX and Mountain Bike events.