London: This was for everyone, in keeping with the theme of the opening ceremony. The 15,000 performers, more than half of them volunteers, came together to entertain nearly 80,000 spectators and dignitaries and an estimated global audience of 1 billion, to embrace the globe in a moment of unity.
This is what the world was waiting for. This was what London was confident of: staging an Olympic Games that proved mankind’s yearning to fight against all adversity.
I doubt there will be any more critics remaining of artistic director Danny Boyle splurging £29 million (Dh167.2 million) telling the story of a country moving from its agricultural and industrial legacy to celebrating everything British.
The ceremony took a stroll through British history starting with the toll of the 27-tonne Olympic Bell inscribed with Shakespeare’s words from The Tempest “Be not afraid: the isle is full of noises”.
From the time Abraham Darby smelted iron in a blast furnace in 1709 in Shropshire to when another great Briton, Tim Berners-Lee, gave the world the World Wide Web and the power of communication through the internet. It was a true journey in time and magic that has seen Great Britain, and London in particular, stand out as a place of hope, love and peace.
And as the River Thames was shown making its journey into the heart of London, the scene at the city’s new Olympic Stadium transformed to the beat of drums from an idyllic green countryside meadow to the dark and grimy Britain displaying its industrial might.
This industrial revolution was then swept off the stage and the crowd welcomed the Queen, along with the Duke of Edinburgh and IOC President Jacques Rogge, who once again openly challenged the athletes to compete in a drug-free atmosphere so as to “leave a legacy behind for generations to come”.
Then came contemporary Britain with its classic television, movies and pop culture. with a selection of music that included the country’s best, from the Rolling Stones to the Beatles and the Sex Pistols.
Finally the torch arrived down the Thames escorted by David Beckham and Jade Bailey and handed over to Olympics great Sir Steve Redgrave as he made the short run and handed over the light to a group of young runners – the future of British sport.
And as the journey began for more than 3,000 athletes who will strive to have a little piece of gold hanging around their neck over the next fortnight of competition, the world will mull and pay homage to London for making this a truly memorable experience.