Thoughts, Ideas and Stories

2012 London Olympics Opening Ceremonies

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The 30th Olympiad Games opened with one of my favorite songs, “Jerusalem”. I’ve loved this song since I first heard Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s version on their album, Brain Salad Surgery. My brother had cool taste in music.

A beautiful pastoral setting showcasing England’s Agricultural Age segued beautifully into the mechanics and hard work of the Industrial Age. Thousands of volunteers in costume literally tore the “stage” apart to take us from one era to the other. The Industrial Age ended with the forging of the five Olympic rings joined overhead in a shower of sparks and glowing metal. It was a beautiful first act.

Next, James Bond (Daniel Craig) arrived at Buckingham Palace to escort Queen Elizabeth II to the games. A whimsical helicopter journey over England ended with both the Queen and James Bond jumping from the helicopter into Olympic Stadium. The Queen is a good sport and you can tell she is very beloved by the British citizenry. Well, the majority of them.

It was very strange to hear the theme music of “The Exorcist” being played until I saw Mike Oldfield and then the children’s dream sequence unfolding. Some of Britain’s greatest villains in children’s literature were represented, including the Queen of Hearts, Cruella de Ville and a 100-foot tall Lord Voldemort. All was safe when Mary Poppins floated to earth using her umbrella to save the day!

“Chariots of Fire” was performed next by the London Symphony Orchestra with a little “help” from Rowan Atkinson aka Mr. Bean. That movie was and still is very motivational to me as I’m pounding out the miles during my runs.

The final act in this play was The Information Age. A cute little love story about a boy and girl living in London was told through musical highlights from the 1960’s through today. Quite a few of the hits from the British Invasion were included. The set ended with an appreciative wave from Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web. Thanks, Tim!

Next up was the March of the Athletes. 204 countries are participating in the Olympics this year with somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,500 athletes competing. As protocol dictates, Greece was the first country walking into the stadium. Each country’s flag was placed on the hill that was used during the opening segment. I admit to fast-forwarding through this part of the ceremony. I can only watch people marching, smiling and waving for so long.

British track and field hero Sebastian Coe gave the opening speech followed by a speech by the IOC President, Jacques Rogge. Queen Elizabeth II declared the Games officially open before the Olympic flag was carried through the stadium, passing by Muhammad Ali. Who can forget the 1996 Atlanta games where a shaking but extremely proud Ali lit the Olympic Cauldron?

The Olympic flame entered the stadium carried by Steve Redgrave, a British rower who won Gold medals in five consecutive Olympic games who then passed the torch to a group of seven young athletes representing the future of the Olympic games.

The group of seven each lit one of 204 copper leaves brought into the stadium by each country. The remaining leaves lit in turn and then the “stems” holding the leaves raised up to form the Olympic cauldron.

Paul McCartney concluded the evening with a few of his hits and another Olympic Opening Ceremony was in the books. Personally, I can’t recall each of the previous ceremonies but they are all beautifully planned and performed and London should be very proud of Saturday night’s show.

So now all that’s left are the athletic performances. Whether an athlete reaches the peak of his or her athleticism and earns a medal is really secondary to just making the team. Hopefully we can have two weeks of amazing, awesome, incredible human achievements and allow the camaraderie and sportsmanship of the athletes give us hope for peace and unity in the world.

At least it would be a start.

Go USA!

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Written by David A. Ufer

July 30, 2012 at 6:52 am

Posted in Olympics, Sports

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