Do you remember where you were on 6th July 2005? I do. I was in my office in Bristol and I remember being in the literature room listening to the radio as the host city for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games was announced. I was convinced that the bookies favourite, Paris would win and that we would be left disappointed. There was a small group of us and when the announcement was made we all cheered. Later that day I also watched the footage of people cheering and celebrating in Trafalgar Square as the host city was declared.
Celebrations were of course short lived as it was the following morning that London was rocked by a series of terrorist bombs. The horrific events of that day are etched on the memories of Londoners and Non-Londoners alike. Together we were strong and like many times in history our wonderful capital city bounced back. Now, we are just hours away from the start of the biggest event London has ever hosted.
Once the announcement had been made, work began on the mammoth task of building the Olympic Park. In the past seven years the industrial area in Stratford has been transformed into a sports, leisure and entertainment hub that we can be proud of. The Olympic Park is only part of the story with the huge shopping complex of Westfield transforming the area for locals. Living in Leyton, I have been able to take full advantage of having these facilities within a 5 minute tube journey and have enjoyed several pints in the new bars there!
Excitement has been building in London during recent weeks as Olympic rings have popped up on famous landmarks, bunting has gone up and official mascots Wenlock and Mandeville have appeared in various forms throughout the city. There are even giant Olympic medals hanging from the trees in Leicester Square.
Tonight the eyes of the world will be fixed on the east end of London for what promises to be a spectacular opening ceremony to the 2012 Olympic Games. Director Danny Boyle has created a show that will undoubtedly be a fitting opener to London 2012. Rumours have been circulating for months but all involved in the preparations and rehearsal have been asked to “Save The Surprise”. A few details have been released regarding the opening scene which is said to be an English countryside complete with livestock and festival goers. Stories have suggested that the epic show, which has been cut by half an hour (concerns were raised about it running over the scheduled finish time) will also include a 3D map of London and an appearance by Daniel Craig as James Bond. The Olympic flame which has weaved its way through the country and has pulled in excited crowds wherever it went will make one final journey tonight as it is carried into the stadium signalling the official start of the games.
We’ve had seven years of hard work, planning, rehearsals and a few hiccups (I won’t even get into the G4S fiasco!). There has also undoubtedly been a lot of criticism and negativity among some. The usage of Olympic lanes through London, the increased workload for transport workers and the usage of anti-terrorist missiles have all grabbed headlines and sparked furious debates. I now feel it’s time for us all to embrace the Olympic Games and show the world how proud we are to be hosting such a prestigious event. Do we really want visitors to our great city think that they are unwelcome or that we are a nation of complainers? We have delivered an Olympics on time and provided the city with a legacy that will be of advantage for years to come. For that I am proud to call this city and country my home and I think it is for this reason we need to celebrate this amazing spectacle. It’s time to forget about any doubts, be proud of what we have achieved and cheer on team GB. It’s time for London to shine.