London 2012: Looking Back

A recap of the London 2012 Olympic Games and a way to recapture the magic and glory of the XXX Olympiad. From the Opening Ceremony to the gold medal winners, the athletes to the venues in which they competed, the medal tallies to the glittering legacy of the Games that will live on all the way to Rio 2016... I felt particularly inspired by the London 2012 Olympics, so much so that I wanted to write something special to remember it by. Hope you enjoy it!

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3. Isles of Wonder: A Review of the Opening Ceremony

Drifting clouds, green pastures and rolling hills were the first glimpse we got of Danny Boyle’s interpretation of British life; people playing cricket, children dancing around the maypole and a feeling of the peace and serenity of the countryside lulled the viewer into a false sense of security. This did not last long, however, as soon the primal beating of drums drowned out the orchestra and all the trees were (quite literally) uprooted to give way for the Industrial era, with the stomping of feet and vast buildings looming over what had been. The drifting clouds darkened, the green pastures were gone and the rolling hills were little more than the remnants of the past.

   Isambard Kingdom Brunel oversaw his plans, the Suffragettes marched side by side with soldiers and smouldering embers spat. As this pandemonium reached its crescendo, five scorching rings rose through the sky and linked in order to create the image that we all associate with the Games, then showered the centre of the stadium with sparks that gave the eternally memorable picture an ethereal quality, almost like an otherworldly aura that silenced everyone present.

   These awe-inspiring scenes were promptly replaced by a short video, entitled “Happy & Glorious”, that showed James Bond meeting and subsequently sky-diving with Her Majesty the Queen. Comically changing the pace of the Opening Ceremony from the dramatic first sequence, a more sober note is hit as officers of the Armed Forces carried the Union flag as a group of children sang “God Save the Queen”.

   The last lines of the national anthem trail off as the stadium is plunged into darkness but for a few wandering lights as a number of hospital beds and medical stuff hurry in, as a tribute to Great Ormond Street Hospital and the National Health Service. When the glowing lights are turned back on, doctors and nurses jive as children leap up and down on beds before the music slows, the lights dim again and the children are put to sleep by the tender care of the medical staff, who have since stopped dancing. But as they slumber, we are invited to celebrate the great children’s literature that has emerged from this country over the years.

    Despite this, almost as soon as J.K Rowling finished reading an extract from J.M Barrie’s beloved “Peter Pan”, it is apparent that this sequence is far more dark and brooding in terms of tone. The Child Catcher from “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” cackles menacingly, the Queen of Hearts from “Alice in Wonderland” and Cruella De Vil from “101 Dalmatians” are brought to life as witches whiz about on broomsticks. Dancers in ragged attire crawl across the floor in primitive, animalistic fashion and finally, the doctors and nurses cower before Lord Voldemort from the Harry Potter books. Thank goodness Mary Poppins decided to glide down from the heavens to save the day, causing the dastardly creatures of the night to exalt and leave all well. A very amusing turn by Rowan Atkinson as Mr Bean eases the mood into the next sequence, one which highlights one of Britain’s greatest exports- music.

   Young people groove to some of the greatest British hits over the past decades, weaving punk, pop, rock, ska and many other types of popular music in a highly energetic montage that thrills the audience. As this finishes, Emeli Sandé warbles “Abide with Me” as groups of dancers give a performance which appears both ballet-like and elegant tinted in red, orange and yellow. This leads into each country participating in the Games carrying their flag in a traditional procession which takes what seems like forever. However, this sequence ends in Great Britain, the home team, emerging as confetti flies everywhere and a tremendous cheer rises up from the crowd. Fireworks erupt before the stadium goes dark for the Arctic Monkeys to perform whilst a number of cyclists wearing glowing wings go round and round the stage, illuminating every corner of the vast venue.

   A more formal approach was taken to the next part as Lord Sebastian Coe; head of the London 2012 bid addressed the audience, summed up the spirit of the Olympics and vowed that his home city, London, would do everything that they could possibly do to make these the best Games ever. Jacques Rogge, President of the IOC, added to these words. Oaths were taken, the general programme was followed… but there was one thing pressing on everyone’s minds.

   When Steve Redgrave appeared, clutching the flame a large exhale of breath occurred, then a sharp intake of one as he passed the honour of lighting the Olympic torch to the next generation of athletes rather than doing it himself. Each of the chosen few had a beacon with which to light the architectural marvel that was the London 2012 Olympic Cauldron and as it fulfilled its purpose, the essence of the Olympic Games burned as brightly as the flame itself in those fleeting moments. The Queen declared the XXX Olympiad officially opened and a feeling of unity spread across the world.

   Then Paul McCartney came on and sang “Hey Jude”. Urgh. Ah well, it’s possible to overlook the last bit because when we look back on the Opening Ceremony we realise how great a country Britain is and why exactly it is recognised as one of the most significant financial and cultural cities in the world and we can look forward to the glittering Games that lie ahead. Even if we do have to put up with Paul McCartney from time to time!

 

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