London — AFTER seven years of massive preparations costing US$14.5 billion, the London 2012 Olympic Games opened here last night with an exuberant ceremony witnessed by over 60,000 spectators, who included Queen Elizabeth, at the gigantic Olympic Stadium.
And Zambia's Light welterweight boxer Gilbert Choombe starts his medal haunt with an elimination fight against Horn Jeffery of Australia while judoka Boas Munyonga has been drawn against 21-year-old Japanese Nakai Takahiro on Tuesday in the 81kg event.
With excitement reaching fever pitch, the three-hour showcase created by Oscar-winning 'Slumdog Millionaire' director Danny Boyle, created some spectacular visual scenes that set the tone for the sporting extravaganza, where more than 10,000 athletes from 204 countries, including Zambia, will share the thrill of victory and despair of defeat.
The British government said more than 80 heads of state and government were in the audience, including royalty from Spain, Sweden, Brunei, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
Among some global dignitaries and celebrities, included United States' first lady Michelle Obama, Russian Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev, holywood stars Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, boxing legend Muhammed Ali, athletes and thousands of enthusiastic spectators attended the opening ceremony.
Zambia was represented by Sports Permanent Secretary, Agnes Musunga, High Commissioner to Britain, Bizwayo Nkunika and his deputy Eva Fundafunda and Press Secretary Amos Chanda, who led the other commission staff to cheer on the Zambian contingent.
Runner Prince Mumba carried the Zambian flag as the seven athletes, who include Gerald Phiri, Chauness Choosha, Jade Howard, Zane Jordan, Choombe and Munyonga, made their way inside the Olympic Stadium.
The weather was a bit drizzle in the morning with humid conditions experienced in the afternoon as excited local and foreign spectators waving balloons, flags from different countries to associate with their athlete.
About one million visitors are expected to visit London during the Olympics thereby exerting additional traffic and security pressures on organisers of officials.
A special reception for visiting Heads of States will be hosted by the Queen at Buckingham Palace on Thursday, July 26, 2012.
The 80-000 seater Olympic Stadium was almost full to capacity five hours before the official opening as a horde of journalists from local and foreign print and broadcast media were also at hand to cover the event.
The lively show ended with a performance by former Beatle, Paul McCartney. British Prime Minister, David Cameron said: "This is a great moment for our country so we must seize it."
Officials have assured the security and safety of London, which this far, has been safe and peaceful. The British Government has deployment up to 23,000 troops comprising police, soldiers and private guards to protect the games.
Meanwhile, Munyonga starts his haunt for Gold with a fight against 21-year-old Japanese Nakai Takahiro, a business law student, on Tuesday July 31 at the ExCel North arena in an elimination round of 64 in the 81kg category.
Boxer Choombe also gets his campaign on Tuesday and will exchange punches against Horn Jeffery of Australia having weighed 63.6 kg to be within the International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA) recommended weight of 63.4kg.
Both boxers are seeded in this group that has four seeded boxers from Brazil, Ukraine, Italy and hosts nation Great Britain. Choombe's trainer Elias Kataya described the draw as fair saying he has watched how many Australians fight and that should his boxer fight according per instructions, then he would sail through to the next round.
Kataya said in an interview that Zambians were equally good boxers and that he was confident that Choombe, who is the country sole representative in boxing, would go far.
On Sunday, swimmer Zane Jordan takes to the pool in Heat One in lane three alongside Bradley Ally of Barbados and Heshan Unamboowe of Sri-Lanka in the men's 100m backstroke event for a place in the semi finals while Jade Howard takes to the pool on Wednesday.
Howard is in Heat Two lane three and will splash it out against Magdalena Moshi of Tanzania, Aina Rabetsara of Madagascar, Karen Riveros of Paraguay, Bayan Jumah from Syria, Britany Van Lange of Guyana and Reshika Udugampola of Sri-Lanka.