Duncan Mackay

So July 27, 2010, has come and gone in a blink of an eye and now we have just one year and 365 days left until the London 2012 Olympic Games begin for real.

The two years to go London 2012 milestone though, was a day of jubilant celebration across the capital.

Surely no-one inhabiting the city, unless they reside at the bottom of the River Thames, could have been unaware that the day marked exactly two years until the world’s greatest sporting extravaganza will grace London for the first time since 1948.

Events in the city, largely organised by the key sponsors of the Games, included: Visa providing 70 of their Team Visa 2012 athletes to join in with the celebrations at the Olympic Park, Panasonic placing a giant screen in Trafalgar Square and BT launching the next stage of the ‘Road to London 2012’ exhibition in partnership with the National Portrait Gallery.

Then there was the Royal Mint has issuing a commemorative ‘2 Years to Go’ coin and, amongst various other goings-on and UPS delivering the stock of Wenlock soft toys to the new London 2012 flagship shop.

It was in fact the new London 2012 flagship shop in St Pancras International Station - opened by no less that London 2012 Chairman Lord Seb Coe and London Mayor Boris Johnson - that was my first port of call on the momentous day.

I turned up at the station shortly ahead of the opening of the shop and was slightly taken aback to see what appeared to be half of the world’s media on the scene with around 500 camera lenses focused on the shop itself.

After recovering my bearings, I managed to secure a decent vantage point to watch proceedings unfold.

Last year's Britain’s Got Talent winners Diversity - an outrageously talented street dance group for those who aren’t familiar with them - began by performing a disappointingly short dance routine before Coe and Johnson marched out to greet the media and shock some of London’s late commuters on their way through the station.

The pair began by speaking of their excitement of reaching the two years to go milestone before launching the search to find 70,000 volunteers for the Games.

Johnson, in his usual flamboyant style, called for an "Olympic Army" of volunteers before he and Coe opened the impressive looking London 2012 shop which, after sidestepping through the crowds of people, I managed to sneak into and have a look around.

The shop featured an impressive array of high quality merchandise including London 2012 pin badges, key rings, mugs, T-shirts and caps.

However, the standout purchase had to be a 30cm soft toy of the official London 2012 mascot Wenlock.

A stuffed toy of Wenlock will set you back £25 but for admirers of the mascot like myself, it will be money well spent - and for you Mandeville fans out there, don’t panic as the official London 2012 Paralympic mascot will be coming to the store on August 29 to mark the two years to go to the Paralympic Games milestone.

While it was extremely hectic around the shop, it was perhaps understandable because of the key figures in attendance. As well as Coe and Johnson, there was Sports and Olympic Hugh Robertson, London 2012 chief executive Paul Deighton, Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) chairman John Armitt, International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Sir Craig Reedie, British Olympic Association (BOA) chairman Andy Hunt and former 400 metre hurdle star and 1992 Olympic gold medallist Sally Gunnell.

Following the opening of the London 2012 shop, I joined the distinguished figures mentioned and the rest of the media onboard the Olympic Javelin Train.

The train will be a central part of plans in 2012 to provide transport services for the potential 800,000 spectators per day expected to attend the London Olympics. In 2012, a frequent Javelin train will run from King’s Cross station to the Stratford International in seven minutes, carrying up to 25,000 passengers per hour to the Olympic Park while there are plans to carry up to 1,200 passengers on each journey.

To me, the Javelin didn’t feel much different to the average Southeastern railways train but it was undeniably a pleasant and smooth seven minute ride to the Olympic Park.

Once at the site, we boarded buses for a tour of the venues and for some strange reason, I was allocated to board bus "one" where two of my travelling companions were misters Coe and Armitt.

It was rather nice having the ODA chairman on the microphone as my tour guide of the Olympic Park and after driving through the ‘cosy’ looking Athletes' Village, we pulled up at the Velodrome which to me looked well on its way to completion.

Once inside the Velodrome, four-time cycling gold medallist Sir Chris Hoy welcomed us by cycling around the track for the very first time and was greeted with cheers with the on looking workers. That noise soon reached a deafening pitch as the Mayor of London, who was clearly no longer able to resist the temptation; climbed onboard the bike for a lap of the Velodrome that was less steady than the one conducted by the Scotsman.

We then moved steadily over to a large, white, square arena on the Park which will host both basketball and handball during the Games. On hand at the arena was British former NBA star John Amaechi and popular Athens 2004 wheelchair basketball Paralympic bronze medallist Ade Adepitan who showed their skills by shooting the first hoops in the venue.

We swiftly departed the arena to visit the main spectator bridge in the Olympic Park which gave a mightily impressive view of the Park.

The bridge will be the ‘front door’ to the Olympic Park in 2012 and no doubt one of the highlights for visiting spectators. It was immensely enjoyable to walk across the bridge and although the heavens opened and the rain came crashing down just as I began my stroll (which is surely a prelude to what will happen in two years time) it did not ruin the experience in the slightest.

Then came the most exciting part of the day; walking to the end of bridge and right into the Olympic Stadium itself. As I did so, I got a spine tingling sensation of what it would be like to be one of the thousands approaching the Stadium in two years time and the closer I got, the more impressive the Stadium looked.

Walking into the Stadium for the very first time is an experience I will not soon forget. The stadium, which like the other sporting venues on the Park is due to be completed within a year, looks very much on track to hit that target and I was immediately struck by how close the seats were to the field of play. It was rather surreal to be standing in the exact spot where Usain Bolt or Jessica Ennis could well be making history in 2012 and I know that with 80,000 people packed into the compact venue, the Stadium will be a very special place to be in 2012.

Inside the stadium, we were treated to multi-Olympic gold medallist Michael Johnson running with school children at a leisurely pace on a specially laid track before we were escorted out of the Olympic Park.

Following the tour, I made my way to Trafalgar Square to see the magnificent Panasonic screen in the heart of the famous landmark which displayed invigorating clips to promote the London 2012 Games. Deighton, Hunt and mascot Wenlock where just some of the figures who also arrived at Trafalgar Square and Deighton made a speech to the crowd before the momentous day drew to a close.

Overall, my reflections of the day were very positive. Everything I had seen in the Olympic Park and all the senior London 2012 figures I had spoken to had convinced me that London is well on track to host a magnificent Games in 2012.

The key venues certainly have that iconic factor required for a successful Olympics and every venue in the Olympic Park is within easy walking distance of any other which is a great feature.

Undoubtedly, problems arise regarding the London 2012 when costs are mentioned.

In a time of economic uncertainty, the £9.28 billion the Games will cost to stage will be looked at closely by the new Government and the fight is definitely on to stop the money set aside from the Games being decreased.

London 2012 organisers have done well to cut costs so far but any further cuts could be catastrophic for the Games and may actually mean that more money will have to be pumped into the project as July 27, 2012 gets closer.

There are even some out there who have no interest in the London 2012 Games and continually criticise how much money is being spent on ‘a month long party.

But I was one of the ones who cheered when London won the bid to host the Games in Singapore in 2005 and though no one could have predicted the recession that would follow; my optimism has not dwindled.

Polls reveal many Londoners are now more confident about the Games than they were when we first won the right to host them in 2005 and I am certainly one of them.

Maybe my day of VIP access around the Park was designed to make me think as much but I truly believe that London will be one of the most successful and memorable Games ever.

But I also thought that England would win the World Cup this year; so I have been wrong before. I don't expect to be this time, though.

Tom Degun is a reporter for insidethegames

PIctures by Mike King. See more great photographs from yesterday's celebration by clicking here