SOUTH Yorkshire’s taekwondo girl Sarah Stevenson helped to kick start the London 2012 Olympics with help from Sheffield’s Arctic Monkeys and Lord Sebastian Coe, writes Graham Walker.
Sarah, of Doncaster, watched by an estimated one billion TV viewers and a sell-out crowd of thousands inside the stadium itself, took the oath on behalf of all athletes taking part.
Alex Turner and his Sheffield band, the Arctic Monkeys, played one of their early hits, I Bet You Look Good On The Dance Floor as well as performing The Beatles song Come Together, as bikers with wings cycled around the stadium.
And Lord Coe, also originally from Sheffield, chairman of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games, gave a formal address to launch the Games.
Holding a corner of the Olympic flag, Sarah swore that she and other athletes to the London Games would commit themselves to “a sport without doping and without drugs”.
Sarah, a top medal prospect, was awarded an MBE in the New Year Honours list, won the hearts of the nation with her courage after refusing to “crumble” following the death of her parents to serious illnesses.
She is also the most successful taekwondo athlete in British history. She is a three time world champion and current world champion, a four time European champion and Olympic medalist in Beijing 2008
Stevenson was awarded an MBE in the New Year Honours list after becoming Britain`s most successful Taekwondo athlete in British history.
She had already competed in the Olympics in Sydney in 2000 and Athens in 2004.
Her father Roy died from a brain tumour in July and her mother lost her battle with cancer three months later.
Speaking when she was awarded her MBE, Stevenson said knew her parents would be proud. She has dedicated her success to her family
It was a night of the best in British talent - brought to an end with ex Beatle Paul McCartney leading a sing-a-long of Hey Jude.
UK Grime MC Dizzee Rascal took to the stage singing his hit song Bonkers.
He said: ‘It is exciting to be part of the London 2012 Olympic Games opening ceremony. It is a good time for the UK and I am glad they asked me to perform one of my greatest tracks to represent the country.
‘Huge respect to all the athletes who are taking part and let’s get the party started.’
Lord Coe gave a formal address and praised the opening ceremony