Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 December 2014

Mary Peters: Secret’s out... this was best ever opening

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27:  The Olympic Rings are assembled during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: The Olympic Rings are assembled during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
Mark Cavendish crosses the finish line in the men's road race
Kazakhstan's Alexandr Vinolurov celebrates winning gold (centre) alongside second placed Rigoberto Uran and third placed Alexander Kristoff
Hannah Miley came fifth in the Women's 400m Individual Medley at the Aquatic Centre
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: Performers dressed up as Queen Elizabeth II and James Bond parachute out of a helicopter above the Olympic Stadium during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: (L-R) Norma Major, Gordon Brown and Chief Executive of LOCOG Paul Deighton during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: Gary Connery and Mark Sutton parachute into the stadium as part of short James Bond film featuring Daniel Craig and The Queen during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: Performers depict a scene of an ordinary family arriving home on a Saturday night during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: United States' fans celebrate the openning of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Trafalgar Square on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: British Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport Jeremy Hunt (2L) and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge (R) is seen during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: People celebrate the openning of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Trafalgar Square on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: People celebrate the openning of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Trafalgar Square on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: Rings representing both the Olympics and the Industrial Revolution are lit during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: Rings representing both the Olympics and the Industrial Revolution are lit during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: Rings representing both the Olympics and the Industrial Revolution are lit during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: The Red Arrows disappear over London ahead of the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic Games at the Olympic Park on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Fireworks are set off during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 27, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Adam Davy/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Fireworks at the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics Games at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday July 28, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Lewis Whyld/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Paul McCartney performs during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 27, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Great Britain's Sir Chris Hoy carries the Union Flag during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday July 28, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Dave Thompson/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Fireworks during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 27, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Tony Marshall/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Serbia's Novak Djokovic holds his counties flag at the Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 27, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony . Photo credit should read: Mike Egerton/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
The Olympic flame is lit during the opening of the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday July 28, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Sir Clive Woodward at the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics Games at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 27, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Mike Egerton/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
The Olympic flame is lit during the Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday July 28, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: John Stillwell/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
The Olympic Flame burns after it was lit at the end of the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday July 28, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Dave Thompson/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Fireworks at the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics Games at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 27, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony . Photo credit should read: Mike Egerton/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
South Africa's Oscar Pistorius waves at the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics Games at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 27, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Mike Egerton/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
The Olympic Flame burns after it was lit at the end of the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday July 28, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Dave Thompson/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Great Britain's team parade around the stadium led by flag bearer Chris Hoy during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 27, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Stephen Pond/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Great Britain's team enter the stadium led by flag bearer Chris Hoy during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 27, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Stephen Pond/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Mohammed Ali is helped to his feet as takes hold of the Olympic flag during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 27, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Stephen Pond/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
A performer dressed as a dove during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 27, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Stephen Pond/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Paul McCartney is shown live on the big screens at the Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday July 28, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Mike Egerton/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Jamaica's Usain Bolt carries his countries flag at the Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 27, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Mike Egerton/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Jamaica's Usain Bolt is mobbed by the other athletes at the Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 27, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Mike Egerton/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Fireworks are set off over the Olympic Stadium during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony in the Olympic Park, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 27, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Fireworks at the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics Games at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday July 28, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Lewis Whyld/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Sir Clive Woodward and members of the Great Britain Olympic team parade around the stadium during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 27, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Dave Thompson/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Fireworks at the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics Games at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday July 28, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Lewis Whyld/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Fireworks at the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics Games at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday July 28, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Lewis Whyld/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Fireworks are set off during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 27, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Adam Davy/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Steve Redgrave, right, holds up the Olympic flame after entering the stadium during the Opening Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 28, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Cameron Spencer, Pool)
Steve Redgrave, right, holds up the Olympic flame after entering the stadium during the Opening Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 28, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Cameron Spencer, Pool)
Steve Redgrave carries the Olympic flame into the stadium during the Opening Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 28, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Cameron Spencer, Pool)
Steve Redgrave, right, holds the Olympic torch after entering the stadium during the Opening Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 28, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, Pool)
Fireworks light up over the stadium during the Opening Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 28, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Britain's Chris Hoy carries the flag during the Opening Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Friday, July 27, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Fireworks illuminate the sky over Olympic Stadium during Opening Ceremonies at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 28, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Fireworks light up over the stadium during the Opening Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 28, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Great Britain's Chris Hoy carries the national flag as confetti surrounds the team during the Opening Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Friday, July 27, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Crowds the fireworks after the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony was screened at the BT Live Event at Victoria Park, Hackney PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday July 28, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS . Photo credit should read: Steve Parsons/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
The Olympic torch is carried by seven young athletes during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday July 28, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Dave Thompson/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Muhammad Ali and his wife Lonnie during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday July 28, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Dave Thompson/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Fireworks are set off over the Olympic Stadium during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony in the Olympic Park, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 27, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
The Olympic flame is lit during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 27, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Stephen Pond/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 27: Sratford locals (bottom left) gather to watch the Opening Ceremony on television outside the Olympic Park on July 27, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Fireworks during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 27, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Sir Steve Redgrave hands the torch to young torch bearers Callum Airlie, Jordan Duckitt, Desiree Henry, Katie Kirk, Cameron MacRitchie, Aidan Reynolds and Adelle Tracey during the London Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 27, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Queen Elizabeth II (left) makes a speech at the Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday July 28, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Ceremony. Photo credit should read: John Stillwell/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY

Five for silver, six for gold, seven for a secret never to be told. The words of the old nursery rhyme never rang so true for me than at Friday night's opening ceremony.

Even now, with the excitement barely died down, I cannot believe how fortunate I was to be chosen to play a part in the climax of the most incredible spectacle ever to launch any Games... and these are my 12th.

And it is beyond me how the seven of us Gold medal winners managed to keep to ourselves the role we would play in handing over torches to the seven young athletes to ignite the flame that signalled to the world that the London 2012 Olympics had truly begun.

We'd earlier been sat among other Olympians and medal winners and couldn't even tell them what we were about to do when we slipped away to change into our uniforms.

We'd been in ‘civvies' until then so no-one, other than the seven, had any idea of what was about to happen.

Keeping quiet about it all wasn't made any easier for just being told on the morning of the ceremony what our exact roles would be.

We weren't part of the rehearsal. In fact, I only found out three weeks ago that I would be taking part at all when Seb Coe phoned to ask if I'd be willing.

I replied ‘Gosh, why me?' and he said simply that I'd been good to him, and to his father, when I was the Great Britain team manager and he was competing.

I was honoured to accept and doubly proud, in the event, to hand my torch to our own Katie Kirk from Holywood. Once again, Katie's involvement was shrouded in secrecy.

I had been asked to nominate a young athlete in her age group, 18, who I believed possessed the talent to become a future Olympian — without knowing the specific role that person would play.

Through my Mary Peters Trust, which assists and charts the progress of all our developing sports talent here, I drew up a short list and quickly identified Katie as ticking all the boxes the organisers required.

Katie, too, didn't find out until the 11th hour that she would be part of the torch-lighting party of potential young stars of the future.

What an inspirational memory and story to carry with her on her journey and to pass down. As I passed on the torch, I hugged her and said simply: “Next time you'll be competing.” I truly believe that.

The whole experience was so uplifing for us all.

Amid the acclamation for a most magnificently choreographed ceremony, I've heard some grumbles, too, about the meaning and relevance of some aspects.

For me, the spectacle was a celebration of the nation, pure and simple. It was patriotic, but not political, nor do I believe it was meant to be. This was about setting the benchmark for a great Olympics and it succeeded.

I'll let you into another secret... Danny Boyle didn't take a fee for his incredible work, not a penny. He insisted instead that money be put towards buying tickets for the children in the east end of London, living around the Olympic Park.

I'm home now for a few days to catch up on my sleep and a few household chores before returning to London to take up my duties, escorting VIP visitors, in my role as an Olympic ambassador.

I've bought some tickets and will take in a few events. I can relax now I don't have any more secrets to guard with my life.

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