Countdown to London 2012 really on now with unveiling of Omega clock
Monday, 14 March 2011
March 14 - London 2012 unveiled the Omega Countdown Clock here to mark the 500-day build-up to next year's Olympics at a special ceremony here tonight.
The Clock was revealed by four Olympic gold medallists from Beijing 2008.
Rowers Pete Reed and Andy Hodge and sailors Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson pulled the cover off the clock at a public event also attended by world and European heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis and London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe.
The launch of the clock, which will now be counting down to the evening of July 27, 2012, in days, hours, minutes and seconds, is seen as a significant moment in the build-up to the Games which have really started to accelerate and which earlier this month saw a set of giant Olympic rings unveiled at St Pancras Station.
The clock, which is in the design of the controversial logo and is made from steel from a Preston-based company, is six-and-a-half metres high, five metres long and weighs four tonnes and sits under the famous statue of Lord Nelson which dominates the skyline.
The beams of light on the clock are inspired by London and its connection with the Meridian line in Greenwich, the home of time.
Trafalgar Square was chosen as the setting as it is one of London's most recognisable landmarks and iconic locations, visited by millions of Londoners and tourists each year and it was·the centre of celebrations when London won the bid in July 2005.
"The launch of the Omega Countdown Clock is an important milestone for any Olympic Games and is something of a tradition within the Olympic Movement," said Coe.
"It will be a daily and hourly reminder to everyone who visits Trafalgar Square that the countdown to the start of London 2012 has well and truly begun and that the greatest show on earth is soon coming to our country.
"Athletes' careers are based on timing and I hope that this milestone moment excites and inspires them to compete at the highest level in 2012.
"Athletes hoping to compete in the Olympic Games are in the final stretch of their preparation and the next 500 days will be crucial to them as their dream of competing in a Games comes closer to reality."
The clock is also a link with the past as Omega were also the official timekeepers the last occasion London hosted the Olympics in 1948 having been associated with the Olympic Movement since the 1932 Games in Los Angeles.
"In 1948, the last time the Olympic Games were held in this city, Omega was responsible for timing each discipline in every sport," said Stephen Urquhart, the President of Omega.
"That edition of the Games is remembered for the technological milestones in timekeeping: the photoelectric cell, our fully-automated timing system and the first photofinish camera ever used at an Olympic Games.
"Then, as now, we were proud to be at the service of the International Olympic Committee and the world's great athletes."
London 2012 officials are now expecting a rush of people wanting to buy tickets when the official website begins accepting applications tomorrow.
"The countdown begins right now in the very heart of the capital as we gear up to stage the best Games in living memory and the excitement spreads outwards from Trafalgar Square to every corner of our great city," said London Mayor Boris Johnson.
"In 500 days time the atmosphere will be electric as the Olympic cauldron bursts into flames signalling the beginning of the world's greatest sporting event and London 2012's glorious legacy unfolds."
September 2009: Omega extends Olympic sponsorship to 2020