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Lucky Hackney schoolgirl “thrilled” about opening Olympic stadium

PUBLISHED: 14:38 10 May 2012 | UPDATED: 16:18 10 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

Archant

A Hackney schoolgirl has risen to fame overnight after she was randomly chosen to open the Olympic Stadium at a spectacular “2012 hours to Go” event last weekend.

Niamh Clarke-Willis, nine, has watched the Olympic Park being built from her home near Victoria Park.

But on Saturday night the Lauriston School pupil was the centre of attention as she officially opened the Olympic Stadium alongside Paralympic archer Danielle Brown, Gabby Logan, LOCOG chairman Seb Coe and Vernon Kay.

Her mum Alison said: “Quietly I think Niamh’s really thrilled.

“She will remember it for the rest of her life. It was a unique experience; something no one else will have done. Her friends all saw her on the TV on Newsround on Sunday.

“My husband and I were just delighted. We are still stunned. It’s a wonderful thing to have happened.

“When we were walking out of the stadium at the end of the night lots of people were coming up to us and saying they were so pleased that it was a local girl who got to open the stadium.”

Niamh was one of 100 pre-selected children registered online ahead of Saturday’s event which she attended with her parents and three brothers. She was the lucky winner after Paralympic gold medalist Danielle Brown shot an arrow into her name on a spinning pink wheel.

Ms Clarke said: “When the arrow hit the pink I was sitting beside Niamh and I said it might be you. We were miles back in the stadium so it was impossible for us to see what was happening. Then it was only a split second and there was an arrow in her name on the big screen.

“Then I believe we jumped up and started shouting.”

On the podium, Niamh was too nervous to do the official countdown but she helped release 1,000 white balloons to mark the Stadium’s opening.

The sporty nine-year-old, who enjoys dance classes, spent the day watching the British Universities Sport Outdoor Athletics Championships with her family.

“It was a really good atmosphere,” Ms Clarke said. “We have all been really interested in the Olympics for a long time and we are really keen to make the most of our summer in London with the Olympics being on.”


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