Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 10 July 2014

The 2012 Olympics

London 2012 tickets are on sale - and Northern Ireland already has a gold medal in the bag.

The Olympics may be more than 12 months away, but the build-up to the Games is already well underway.

Cyclist Wendy Houvenaghel, from Upperlands in Co Londonderry, won world track championship team pursuit gold in Holland last week to underline her standing as one of Northern Ireland's very few genuine 2012 medal hopes.

The London Olympics opening ceremony is on Friday, July 27, next year, but the all-too-predictable hype is already in full swing with a big push to sell tickets.

Tickets for that opening ceremony cost up to £2,012 each. Yet they remain among the hottest tickets for the Games - along with track cycling and Usain Bolt's tilt at yet more 100m glory.

Houvenaghel, who won an individual pursuit silver medal at the Beijing Olympics, is not surprised that cycling tickets are at the top of many people's wish-lists. "We had great success in Beijing and that has put cycling on the map," she explained.

"Certainly, if I was a spectator, the velodrome cycling is something that I would be interested in watching.

"Clearly, that seems to be what is happening."

And the 36-year-old admitted that competing in London will be a unique experience.

"Having the Olympic Games on your own patch gives you an advantage," Houvenaghel added.

"Competing close to home is a bonus and should be a really positive experience. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

By the way, tickets for the Olympic final of Houvenaghel's team pursuit event - on Saturday, August 4 next year - start at £50 rising to £325.

Bolt's outrageous celebrations can be observed first-hand for £50 rising to £725.

Demand is expected to far outstrip availability for these blue riband events and ticket applications will be decided by a lottery.

Of course, there won't be any Olympic action here in Northern Ireland.

Olympic football would have been played here - Glasgow and Cardiff will host games - if a new national stadium had been built.

But, in spite of Government making funds available, a stadium proved a bridge too far for the authorities and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity was lost.

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