After seven years of preparation, England kicked off the 2012 Summer Olympic Games on Friday. NBC estimates that 4 billion viewers tuned in from around the world to watch the opening ceremonies in London, England.
Oscar-winning filmmaker Danny Boyle directed the opening ceremonies. The show cost $42 million and required 15,000 volunteers.
An Exciting Opening
Boyle’s ceremony took audiences through a history of England. The performance began in the English countryside, continued with the building of factories and cities and ended up in the modern age, with performers texting and using cellphones.
Next, the athletes, coaches and officials from the 205 nations competing made their way into the stadium during the Parade of Nations. The ceremonies ended with the lighting of the Olympic flame and Paul McCartney, former member of the famous rock band The Beatles, singing the song “Hey Jude.”
The opening weekend of competition took some expected turns. American swimmer Ryan Lochte surprised the world when he beat teammate Michael Phelps to win a gold medal in the 400-meter individual medley. It was the first time Phelps did not win a medal in an Olympic race since 2000, when Phelps was 15. “I had a chance to put myself in a good spot, and I didn’t do it,” Phelps said after the race. “It’s pretty upsetting, but the biggest thing now is to try to get back and move forward.”
Even more surprising was China’s 16-year-old Ye Shiwen’s incredible performance in the women’s 400-meter individual medley. Ye set the first swimming world record this year, even swimming faster than men’s gold medalist, Lochte, during the final 50 meters of the race!
Though many expected to see American gymnast Jordyn Wieber take home gold in the women’s all-around gymnastics final, Wieber did not to qualify for the event. Only two gymnasts from each country can qualify, and Wieber was beat by teammates Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman.
With the Games just getting underway, there are likely many more surprises in store. What else will stun fans around the world? You’ll have to watch to find out!
Click here to view a slide show of more London 2012 highlights.