Photo Credit: Quinn Rooney, Getty Images
Best. Night. Ever. If you are looking for an objective review of the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics, let me say right at the outset, you won’t find it here. At age 10, I dreamed of winning an Olympic gold medal in figure skating. Since then, I’ve dreamed of covering an Olympics one day. This year, that dream came true.
London's Opening Ceremony was a night I will never forget -- from the four-hour spectacle of music, dance and fireworks to the pageantry of cultures in the parade of nations to the creative lighting of the Olympic cauldron to Sir Paul McCartney (that’s right the one and only) leading 60,000 of us in Hey Jude.
In addition to Sir Paul, other notable performers included J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame, David Beckham who escorted the Olympic torch to the Olympic Stadium in a boat to the Queen herself, who will earn rave reviews from younger generations for taking part in a taped sketch with Daniel Craig, a.k.a. James Bond. In that sketch, Bond escorts Queen Elizabeth and King Philip into a helicopter, heads for the Olympic Stadium and then appears to send the Queen -- in a parachute -- out into the air and into the stadium.
That didn’t really happen but how fun thinking it could have! The Queen arrived without fanfare but played a key role in officially declaring the Games of the 30th Olympiad underway.
“Welcome to London,” said Sebastian Coe, the gold medal Olympic champion and organizer of the London 2012 Summer Games. “I have never been so proud to be British and to be part of the Olympic movement as I am on this day at this moment.”
I’ve never been so proud to be a member of the human race! Watching athletes from Iran, Iraq and Israel enter the Olympic Stadium within minutes of each other and women from Brunei, Quatar and Saudi Arabia march for their countries for the very first time showed what the Olympics are all about. We “celebrate what is best about mankind,” said Coe, and London’s opening act did just that.
The city, the first to host an Olympics for the third time, had big shoes to fill after the 2008 Opening Ceremony in Beijing, viewed as one of the most spectacular in Olympic history. Danny Boyle of Slum Dog Millionaire fame rose to the occasion, pulling out all the stops as artistic director. He created a full English countryside and a series of sweeping numbers, which seemed to salute England’s past and its rich history while – at the same time - showcasing its thriving modern culture and the promise of the future. “London 2012 will inspire a generation,” Coe said.
I had tears in my eyes too many times to count especially when the athletes of Team USA, the largest Summer Olympic team by a mile, were in the house. But I felt equally proud and excited when Great Britain entered to thunderous applause, which lasted several minutes. Great Britain worked hard to welcome the world and these athletes, as they waved and took in the cheers and the 60,000-strong standing ovation, seemed to be expressing the pride of the nation.
Add to all that emotion a dazzlying pyrotechnic and fireworks presentation, a dramatic final torch relay leading to one of the most creative cauldron lightings I've ever seen and an appearance by a frail-looking Muhammad Ali to salute the dedication and character of athletes and you have the makings of a magical start to these 2012 Summer Olympics.
Let the Games begin!
The cost of Kelly Wallace’s travel to London and accommodation was paid by Procter & Gamble.