London enters final straight for 2012 Games

Wed Apr 18, 2012 2:33pm EDT
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By John Mehaffey

LONDON (Reuters) - London entered the final straight in the run-up to the 2012 Olympics during a wet and windy spring day on Wednesday with celebrations across the world to mark the 100 days' countdown to the Games.

The day began at Kew Gardens where London organizing committee chairman Sebastian Coe helped plant one of 40 oak trees which will be installed around the country to recognize Britain's role in the birth of the modern Olympic movement.

The trees were grown from acorns taken from an oak planted in 1890 by the founder of the Games, French aristocrat Baron Pierre de Coubertin, at the Much Wenlock Games in the county of Shropshire.

Twenty thousand flowers in the shape and color of the five Olympic rings were revealed and a giant sandcastle, also featuring the rings, has been built at Weymouth and Portland, venue for the sailing events. More than 250 guardsmen formed the figure 100 at the Horse Guards Parade where the beach volleyball will be staged.

"These celebration are actually being marked around the globe today," Coe told a news conference. "From Times Square in New York through to Palestine, New Zealand and Socchi.

"If ever I needed reminding that we are delivering a Games for the whole world, it's actually been on my international engagement program over the last few months.

"It's taken me effectively to five continents. I have rarely witnessed the level of excitement amongst national Olympic committee, amongst the media and certainly amongst the elite level competitors that are going to come and dignify our Games in 100 days' time.".

Unsurprisingly, the organizing committee and government ministers remained resolutely upbeat about the third Games to be hosted by London following the 1908 and 1948 editions.   Continued...

Schoolchildren stand by the Olympic countdown clock in Trafalgar Square marking the 100 day point before the opening ceremony for the London 2012 Olympic Games, London April 18, 2012. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett