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As fans filed expectantly into the Olympic Stadium, not even a traditional British rain shower could dampen their spirits, with excitement reaching fever pitch during the final countdown to the Opening Ceremony.Once triple Olympic champion Bradley Wiggins had rung the largest harmonically tuned bell in the world to signal the start of the ceremony, 80,000 spectators - and hundreds of millions of TV viewers worldwide - were dazzled by a vibrant show that featured a spell binding mix of comedy, music, dance and spectacular set pieces.The audience was taken on a whirlwind tour of British culture and history, which celebrated everything from the country's industrial revolution and its free healthcare to its contributions to popular music and children's literature.Following the parade of nations, which saw athletes from 204 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) march into the stadium, Queen Elizabeth II officially declared the Games open. Attention then shifted outside the stadium, where five-time Olympic rowing champion Steve Redgrave received the Olympic torch from David Beckham and young footballer Jade Bailey, who arrived by speedboat after travelling along the Thames.After entering the stadium, Redgrave passed the Olympic flame to 19-year-old rower Cameron MacRitchie, who was joined by six other aspiring sportsmen and women on a lap of the stadium. In the spectacular finale, the seven young Torchbearers each lit the Olympic Cauldron, made of 204 copper petals to represent the competing NOCs at the Games, which rose elegantly from the ground to form one unified flame.Day 1The London 2012 Olympic Games burst into life with an Opening Ceremony that featured everything from James Bond and The Beatles to flying bicycles and literary villains27 JulyOLYMPIC REVIEW 19LONDON 2012

With the city still buzzing from the previous night's spectacular Opening Ceremony, the London 2012 sporting competition began in earnest as the first medals of the Games were awarded.China's Yi Siling enjoyed the honour of winning the first gold of the Games, securing the women's 10m air rifle title in front of a sell-out crowd at the Royal Artillery Barracks.And fans were out in force at other venues as well, with the sunny weather and sporting action helping to create a feel-good atmosphere across the city. The men's cycling road race, in particular, seemed to capture the public's imagination, with an estimated one million supporters lining the streets from London to Surrey for the race. "It was the most amazing thing I've ever seen," said German cycling star André Greipel, who finished 27th.Many of the British fans had turned out in the hope of cheering home favourite Mark Cavendish to the host country's first medal of the Games, but it was Kazakhstan's Alexander Vinokourov who won gold, out-sprinting Colombia's Rigoberto Urán on The Mall.Thousands of fans also helped create an incredible atmosphere at the Aquatics Centre in the Olympic Park, where the first evening of swimming finals was taking place. The noise in the venue reached a crescendo during the final of the men's 400m individual medley, when American Ryan Lochte stormed to victory in 4:05.18. "For four years I've been training hard," said Lochte. "This is just my first event so I'm really happy. I'm ready to rock this Olympic Games."And so too, it seemed, were the fans in London.Day 2The first medals of the London 2012 Olympic Games are awarded, as fans turn out in force across the city to support their heroes28 July20 OLYMPIC REVIEW LONDON 2012