London 2012: Hackney girl officially opens Olympic Stadium

PUBLISHED: 12:35 06 May 2012 | UPDATED: 12:37 06 May 2012

Nine-year-old Hackney girl Niamh Clarke-Willis, helped release a tonne of balloons to open the Olympic stadium. Photo: Dave Tulley/ LOCOG

Nine-year-old Hackney girl Niamh Clarke-Willis, helped release a tonne of balloons to open the Olympic stadium. Photo: Dave Tulley/ LOCOG


The Olympic Stadium was officially opened this weekend - by a girl from Hackney.

Niamh Clarke-Willis was picked from an audience of more than 40,000 at last night’s 2012 Hours to Go: An Evening of Athletics and Entertainment to press the button which launched balloons into the sky above the Stadium, and marked its official opening.

The nine-year-old was chosen by archer and Paralympic gold medallist Danielle Brown, who shot arrows at a series of spinning targets to select a young person to take part in the opening.

The event was hosted by television presenters Vernon Kay and Gabby Logan and attended by VIPs including Seb Coe, chairman of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG).

Kay and Logan were joined by celebrities including Tottenham born rapper and song writer Chipmunk, impressionist Jon Culshaw, singer Melanie C, Olympians Sir Steve Redgrave and Mark Foster, Hugh Bonneville of Twenty Twelve and Downton Abbey fame and comedian Jack Whitehall.

They took part in a series of stunts, games and challenges including zorbing, a bicycle relay challenge and Olympic sports of the past in order to win prizes for members of the audience.

The celebrations were part of the British Universities and Colleges Sport Outdoor Athletics Championships and the Visa London Disability Grand Prix which are test events for the venue.

Speaking before the event Lord Coe said: “This event is very important to us for a number of reasons. Seeing athletes on the track for the first time will be a special moment for me personally and then welcoming 40,000 people into the Stadium on Saturday night will be a major milestone.

“This crowd will not only be starting their Olympic journey just weeks ahead of the Games, they will also play a vital role in helping us test the venue and earn our licence to operate the Stadium. I am very proud of this venue and excited that it is set to stage the biggest sporting event in the world.”

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