Queen, Bond and 7 teens spark Olympic fire
Seven teenagers were given the honour of lighting the Olympic cauldron in the symbolic start to the 2012 London Games.
The young athletes, each nominated by a renowned British Olympian, lit a single tiny flame each within a copper petal on the ground, which triggered the ignition of more than 200 petals. The petals then rose towards each other to form one flame, described as a flame of unity.
The lighting of the cauldron holds huge symbolism within the opening ceremony as the flame burns above the stadium for the duration of the Games.
The arrival of the flickering torch into the darkened stadium carried by five-times Olympic champion Steve Redgrave was greeted by a huge roar, bringing to an end a 70-day, 8,000-mile journey around some of the most famous landmarks in Britain where it was cheered on by millions of people.
It had earlier been driven up the Thames in a speed boat by David Beckham. The seven chosen youngsters were Callum Airlie, Jordan Duckitt, Desiree Henry, Katie Kirk, Cameron MacRitchie, Aidan Reynolds and Adelle Tracey, aged between 16 and 19.
The choice of teenagers for the final stage marks a change from recent Games where some of the world's most famous athletes have carried out the lighting. Chinese gymnast Li Ning lit the cauldron in Beijing in 2008. Raised into the air by wires, he ran around the rim of the stadium roof before lighting a wick which carried the flame to the cauldron.
Windsurfer Nikolaos Kaklamanakis lit the cauldron in Athens in 2004, 400m runner Cathy Freeman walked through a circular pool of water to light it in Sydney in 2000, and boxer Muhammad Ali did the honours in Atlanta in 1996.
Also, Queen Elizabeth arrived at the opening ceremony of the Olympics in spectacular style on Friday, greeted by a huge roar from the crowd as she appeared in the stadium to help officially open the London Games.
Minutes earlier the 86-year-old monarch appeared in her first film role on big screens with the James Bond actor Daniel Craig at Buckingham Palace.
In the film, they were seen entering a helicopter which swept off over the capital. Minutes later a helicopter appeared above the stadium and released two people who parachuted just past the stadium. The Queen then walked into the opening ceremony in east London, before the 60,000 strong audience, and before a choir sang the national anthem.
The Queen is enjoying her highest level of public popularity in 20 years following the celebration of her Diamond Jubilee this year, and the royal family is expected to take a high-profile role during the Games. The Queen's equestrian granddaughter Zara Phillips is also competing.
Some one billion people were expected to watch the opening ceremony around the world which will launch the 17 days of sport.
Published: 28th July 2012