The hottest ticket in the world was for the London Olympics opening ceremony – and everyone lucky enough to be there felt blessed.
The Cayman Islands team, with Kemar Hyman holding the flag, proudly strode round with all the other 204 nations in a monumental event at the Olympic Stadium in Stratford, east London on Friday. The 22-year-old sprint sensation and Cayman’s 100m record holder is in the 100m from 4 August.
Start to finish, even though it overran by an hour to last nearly four, director Danny Boyle nailed it with his British culture and history theme.
It was fun, unpredictable, pacy and absorbing throughout. Not the pomp and military precision-like extravaganza of Beijing four years ago, this time, Boyle went with the popular line with plenty of audience interaction.
The humour he injected included videos of Rowan Atkinson, aka Mr. Bean, in a Chariots of Fire spoof and the Queen making a cameo with Daniel Craig in a Bond sketch. Boyle even had a lookalike of Her Majesty jump out of a helicopter in front of Bond and into the arena to mass amusement.
The cauldron lighting was a surprise, as promised, because Sir Steve Redgrave – favourite for the honour – carried it into the stadium but it was handed to seven unknown youngsters, all teenagers.
Redgrave received the torch from David Beckham, who had carried it on a boat up the River Thames.
There was a moment of controversy when a German official appeared to make a Nazi salute.
Usain Bolt led out the Jamaicans to huge applause. He is still the most recognisable and popular athlete on the planet. The biggest team was, inevitably, the Great Britain team of more than 500, led by cyclist Sir Chris Hoy.
The show was closed by Sir Paul McCartney singing Hey Jude as fireworks lit up the east London skyline.
Despite the late running – even though Boyle’s show was cut by 27 minutes – the overwhelming feeling was that it was an extraordinary showpiece and a fitting start to the greatest show on earth.