Get set for the greatest show on earth
Published 28/07/2012 | 08:00
After years of hard work and anticipation, the London 2012 Olympics are now officially under way. All the training, dedication and determination will be tested to the utmost. There will no doubt be stories of triumph and tragedy, of joy and of heartbreak.
The last-minute challenges of providing proper security and transport, and of accommodating the Games in a busy capital city, will become secondary to what happens in the competitions. So far the organisation of the London Olympics has been impressive.
The various arenas for the competitions have been built in good time, the Olympic village has been as impressive as the welcome for the competitors, and the UK has shown that it is well placed to host an international spectacle of this range.
The long journey of the Olympic Flame throughout the UK, and also briefly to part of the Irish Republic as well as Northern Ireland, has shown the organisers' determination to make this a widely inclusive spectacle. The public has responded magnificently by showing the anticipation needed to match the magnitude of this event.
The ultimate prize of gold, silver and bronze medals will be significant milestones in the careers of each winner, and also a national tally of a country's collective achievements.
There are 19 competitors from Northern Ireland taking part with Team GB or Team Ireland, and a strong possibility of several medals coming to this island.
Some of the fancied hopefuls include rowers Alan Campbell and Peter and Richard Chambers, as well as boxers Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlan, and cyclist Wendy Houvenaghel.
Only a minority of competitors can receive medals. But the Olympian ideal is in celebrating the achievement of taking part.
This will be a time for taking our much-prized seats at the live events, or for watching the proceedings in detail on television. In that sense the historic London Olympics 2012 will show that everyone can be a winner.