The ceremony had been given a lot of hype and my goodness did it live up to it.
I always knew the fireworks would be fantastic and they were. The initial part of the show was stylish combining Chinese culture and history with the obligatory dancers and drummers and Sarah Brightman singing on top of a huge glowing globe, so just you’re average opening ceremony.
The parade of 204 nations does take a while but because I was so close to the action I didn’t really mind. I was close enough to shout at Richard Archibald and Melanie Nocher as they passed by and they both give me a wave. I saw NBA legend Kobe Bryant and favourite for the 100m Tyson Gay were in the American ranks, Roger Federer carried the Swiss flag on his 27th birthday. Basket ball star Yao Ming was the proud flag bearer for the hosts he was accompanied by a nine year old survivor of the Sichuan earthquake.
Funny thing was that when the Americans were marching past George Bush was shown on the big screen and he received huge cheers. He hasn’t had that sort of reception at home for some time.
The games were officially declared open by Chinese premier Wu Jintao but perhaps the highlight was the Olympic flame lit by Chinese gymnastics gold medallist Li Ning who was hoisted high into the air and then circum-navigated the stadium roofs edge before igniting the caldron. There was definitely a “wow” factor in that, it was quite incredible. The gauntlet has certainly been laid down to Seb Coe, Boris Johnson and the rest of the London 2012 team who will have to follow that.
By the way, in case anyone has forgotten, the competition gets underway in five and a half hours with a number of Irish athletes in action. I’ll be following the likes of Siobhan Byrne, Chloe Magee and Andrew Bree; I’ll tell you all about it on olympics.ie