London 2012: Wales joins Olympics celebrations

Wales is celebrating the opening of the 2012 London Olympics, two days after Cardiff got the Games under way.

Cwm Rhondda, sung by junior choir Only Kids Aloud, featured in Friday night's Olympic Stadium spectacular.

Celebrations started with bell-ringing in churches, streets and pubs, and the Red Arrows flew from north to south Wales in just 23 minutes.

The main ceremony was being watched on big screens, including one in front of 15,000 people in Colwyn Bay.

The Access All Eirias show included live music from acts including Only Boys Aloud and Mike Peters, in between the screening of major moments from the opening live from London.

Image caption The Red Arrows over Cardiff's Millennium Stadium

The ceremony at the Olympic Stadium in Stratford, east London, on Friday marked the official start of the 2012 Games although the first event - a women's football match - took place at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium on Wednesday.

First Minster Carwyn Jones, who was at the Olympic Stadium, sent his own good luck message to the 30 Welsh competitors taking part for Team GB.

"I have no doubt they will make all of us proud as they represent both Wales and the UK in the greatest sporting event in the world," he said.

Welsh medal hopes include Dai Greene in the 400m hurdles, triathlete Helen Jenkins, rower Tom James and cyclists Nicole Cooke and Geraint Thomas.

Speaking on his appointment as GB athletics captain earlier in July, Greene said there was a "great team spirit" in the camp.

"I think our team is one of the strongest in history and I believe that we can go out and do Britain proud and I intend to lead by example," he said.

An estimated worldwide TV audience of a billion heard the voices of 80 members of junior choir Only Kids Aloud shortly after the start of the opening ceremony at 21:00 BST.

They recorded their contribution in the form of a video filmed at Rhossili on Gower two weeks ago, conducted by Craig Yates from the male choir Only Men Aloud.

The video was broadcast alongside others from Scotland, England and Northern Ireland to represent the four nations of the UK.

More than 50 schoolchildren from Wales were forming part of the guard of honour for the arrival of the athletes into the stadium.

Fifty-six children from around Wales were there in person as part of a 2,000 strong contingent of youngsters lining the route of the competitors from the Olympic Park to the Olympic Stadium.

Schools from Bargoed, Bethesda, Blackwood, Cardiff, Ceredigion, Llandudno and St Asaph sent eight children each.

Richard Hatwood, a teacher at Ysgol Esgob Morgan in St Asaph said the children were "ecstatic" to take part and forge links with one of the smaller Olympic nations.

"We have been working with St Ignatius school on the Cayman Islands," he said.

"They've sent the children here official Cayman Islands t-shirts, hats and pin badges and in return we've sent them t-shirts, badges, Welsh flags and maps."

BBC newsreader Huw Edwards, who was commentating at the opening ceremony, said he was excited at the prospect of Welsh medal success.

"I'm absolutely thrilled that I've got 30 Welsh athletes to follow," he said.

"My big dream is that, when I'm presenting BBC News at Ten, I'd love to be announcing that there are Welsh gold medal winners on a regular basis.

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Media captionListen to some of the bells from Wales ringing out to mark the Olympics opening day

"That would be a dream come true."

Ahead of the ceremony, people from Wales joined in a UK-wide All The Bells event at 08:12 BST, to ring in the Olympics.

As well as peals from St Davids and Llandaff cathedrals and parish churches, less traditional bell ringers joined in for three minutes in streets and pubs.

'Stuff of dreams'

Janey Howell, of St Mellons in Cardiff, gathered with family and friends to ring bicycle, school and Christmas bells.

Rita Carter, from Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, rang an antique hand bell.

Delyth Morris-Jones, from Aberystwyth in Ceredigion, used a hand bell and one of Wales' oldest pubs, the Skirrid Inn, Llanfihangel Crucorney in Monmouthshire, chimed its old ship's bell.

The Red Arrows aerobatics display team flew over Wales on Wales, starting from RAF Valley on Anglesey at 15:58 BST and arriving in Cardiff 23 minutes later.

While the opening ceremony was taking place at Stratford, rock band Stereophonics were representing Wales at a celebration concert in Hyde Park.

The evening's events were also being shown live on the BBC Big Screens in Cardiff and Swansea.

As for the Millennium Stadium, its Olympic football action will take a break for a rest day on Friday while the spotlight is firmly on London.

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