By Omulo Okoth in London
He was part of the caste of the grand opening ceremony on Friday night. Dunford was a flag bearer in the same stage with Jamaica’s Usain Bolt and other top athletes. What a honour to have the opportunity to share the stage with Rowan Atkinson, better known as Mr Bean! No wonder, Jason has vowed to win a medal at the Games.
As athletes were marching past the main stand, their heads of state stood and waved back using miniature flags. In Kenya’s case, Nationa Olympic Committee of Kenya Chairman Kipchoge Keino, is the one who acknowledged the athletes, although President Kibaki was among the heads of state and government who accompanied a gently smiling Queen Elizabeth during the jaw dropping show of classical history, music and culture.
Four billion people from around the world watched the opening ceremony. Of course, the Olympic opening ceremony had monarchs, presidents, prime ministers, Michelle Obama and the cast of “Downton Abbey” – and that was just in the audience.
The ceremony itself included Muhammad Ali, Paul McCartney and David Beckham – who drove the Olympic flame down the Thames in a speedboat. This was a decidedly A-list affair.
Among the 60,000 spectators at Olympic Stadium was Queen Elizabeth II, her husband Prince Philip and younger royals including Prince William and his wife Kate, and Prince Harry.
There was a sprinkling of screen stars, including British actors Richard E. Grant and Orlando Bloom, who stopped to take pictures with British soldiers and fans outside the stadium.
Actor Hugh Bonneville, who plays aristocrat Lord Grantham in the costume drama “Downton Abbey,” tweeted a picture of his fellow cast-members arriving at the stadium.
Across town in Hyde Park, Duran Duran, Paolo Nutini, Stereophonics and Snow Patrol played at a concert for music fans who couldn’t go to the ceremony, which was shown on big screens.
British government says more than 80 heads of state and government were in the Olympic Stadium audience, including royalty from Brunei, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Spain and Sweden.