As Helen Keeling walked past the red carpet entrance to the sight of a beaming Dame Kelly Holmes, she knew she was in for an exciting evening to see Our Greatest Team rise.
On Friday May 11, the Royal Albert Hall played host to ‘Our Greatest Team Rises’ – the Team GB and ParalympicsGB Olympic launch party. Staged just a day after the London Olympic Flame was lit in Greece, and with only 77 days left until the start of the Games, the event served to show our Olympians, and Paralympians, that we are right behind them. It also helped to raise vital funds for our athletes in their final stages of training.
A Royal affair
Compered by Davina McCall and John Bishop (who, rather amusingly, kept reading Davina’s autocue), the event was attended by British Olympic royalty. In was also attended by, erm, British Royalty, with Team GB Ambassadors the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge showing their support. In his amusing speech, Prince William informed the audience that he had actually been asked to compete for Team GB in every sport, but that ‘sadly, Lord Coe said there were London pigeons with more athletic prowess than me.’ He also poked fun at his brother’s recent success against Usain Bolt, reminding us all that it was a false start.
The Olympic bid
In a bid to raise money for Team GB and ParalympicsGB, there was both a silent and a non-silent auction. The silent auction boasted once in a lifetime ‘lots’, such as a spa day with Sharron Davies and the chance to attend a race meet with Denise Lewis. Sponsors British Airways, BT and Cadbury’s, and the British Olympic and Paralympic Associations, donated some prize ‘bundles’ for the non-silent auction that were the stuff of Olympic-lovers dreams. I asked my fiancé if we could re-mortgage our house and bid for the British Olympic and Paralympic Associations’ offerings but he (perhaps) wisely suggested that this wouldn’t be a good idea.
Making an entrance
Whilst our past and present Olympians and Paralympians were enjoying their cordon bleu food, adventurer Bear Grylls literally ‘dropped in’ on the festivities, making an aerial entrance from the ceiling of the great hall.
Over the course the evening, Davina McCall, John Bishop and Dermot O’Leary interviewed British Olympic legends such as Sir Steve Redgrave, Sir Matthew Pinsent, Denise Lewis and Lord Coe. These Olympic greats gave their direct experiences of the build-up to an Olympic Games and talked about how particularly special, nerve-wracking and exciting the build up to a home Games must be.
The entertainment on the night was superb. Artists such as Gary Barlow, Will Young, The Feeling, Mel C, Alfie Boe, Charlie Siem, The Noisettes and Kimberley Walsh all performed sets – but my favourite, and perhaps most apt, song of the night was Spandau Ballet’s Tony Hadley singing ‘gold’ to Team GB and ParalympicGB.
In addition to the singers and musicians, there was a routine from gymnastic troupe Spelbound, which really was spellbinding and perfectly in keeping with the athletic theme of the night.
The final word
‘These Games remind us of the power of the human spirit and human endeavour. You, our Olympians and Paralympians, will inspire people up and down this country, and far beyond its borders,’ said Prince William.
‘For the athletes of Our Greatest Team, these Games mark the pinnacle of your sporting careers. I can only imagine it … competing at home, in front of your countrymen and women, with the eyes of the entire world upon you. A dream come true.
We will witness an exceptional moment in our island history. The mood in London will be electric, ecstatic, amazing. I just simply can’t wait.’
Helen Keeling, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine
Image credit: British Olympic Association