Newham Recorder 50: London 2012 Olympic Games make Stratford centre of the world

PUBLISHED: 20:00 13 June 2018

The Recorder's commemorative supplement on the London 2012 Olympic Games. Picture: Archant/Newham Archives and Local Studies Library

The Recorder's commemorative supplement on the London 2012 Olympic Games. Picture: Archant/Newham Archives and Local Studies Library

Archant/Newham Archives and Local Studies Library

Newham welcomed the world to a sizzling summer of sport at the 2012 London Olympic Games.

For two, pulse-pounding, nail-biting weeks, the world’s eyes fell on Stratford for the Games, which featured more than 300 events in 26 sports.

Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony kicked off events with a spectacular snapshot of British life.

The nearly four-hour show, Isles of Wonder, celebrated the best of Britain, blending NHS beds, cricket on a village green and footage from the acclaimed 1996 black comedy-drama about heroin addicts, Trainspotting.

The Royal Mint churned out about 4,700 medals for the dazzling display of sporting success, one of which went to the borough’s own track superstar, Christine Ohuruogu.

Defending her gold medal-winning performance at the Beijing Olympics four years prior, the Stratford athlete made the borough proud with by scooping silver in the 400m with a time of 49.70s.

“We were in the stadium last night to support her and the crowd was amazing,” her father, Jonathan, told the Recorder’s Melissa York the day after her victory.

“We are very proud of Christine and the way she kept going and the way she fought back at the end.”

The scene could not have been more different seven years earlier, where, the day after London won the bid for the 2012 Games, the first step to build Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park was made.

On Thursday, July 7 2005, officials signed a contract to remove 52 electricity pylons from a site in Stratford.

Construction work for the Olympic site began in 2007 and spanned seven years – Europe’s biggest construction project.

But before the London Stadium could begin to take shape, the UK’s largest archaeological investigation first had to scour the site to uncover the area’s hidden history.

Time teams discovered around 10,000 artefacts, including four skeletons found in separate graves within an Iron Age settlement now home to the Aquatics Centre.

When the five rings lowered and the Olympic flame flickered its last at the 2012 Games’ closing ceremony, sport-loving youngsters were praised for helping make the original bid a winner.

“Now that I look back on it I don’t think we realised how big it was at the time,” said Humaira Patel, one of the bid team’s youngest members.

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