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Today at the Olympics: A ceremonious beginning

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff  July 27, 2012 05:33 AM

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More than a few Union Jack umbrellas may be evident tonight at the Opening Ceremonies, but London's first rain in five days won't dampen the mood as the city's third time as host (and first since 1948) officially get underway. As the Olympic flame makes its way through the city -- it is aboard the rowbarge Gloriana on the Thames at this writing -- here are a few other burning thoughts this morning as the festivities finally begin ...

Friday's must-see event: Did we mention the Opening Ceremonies is tonight? Masterminded by acclaimed director Danny Boyle ("Trainspotting," "Slumdog Millionaire"), the main details of three-hour-plus official commencement of the Games mostly have, stunningly in the age of Twitter, kept under wraps per his request, though a short preview clip was made available this morning that featured, among other things, winged cyclists pedaling in unison to "Come Together" by the Beatles.

Further details we do know: Actor Daniel Craig -- the current James Bond -- will appear in a short film during the festivities that apparently features Buckingham Palace as a backdrop and a cameo by Queen Elizabeth II. (Timothy Dalton, however, is nowhere to be found.) Paul McCartney, who has been spotted and heard by star-struck reporters on multiple occasions this week rehearsing at the venue, will apparently sing "Hey Jude.'' And Roger Bannister, the first man to break the 4-minute mile, is the odds-on favorite to light the cauldron. (More on that later.)

Also worth watching: Not a whole lot quite yet. Archery is underway, with the men beginning with a preliminary round of 64 that sets the seeding for the following rounds. Fans were not allowed in, however -- tradition is that the first round is held in private, though there was some confusion when it was listed as a non-ticketed event.

Tweet of the day: So proud & honored to be the captain of this team. I love these girls so much! We are so excited for Sunday!!! So proud to represent USA :) --- @Aly_Raisman, the Needham native who will lead the US women's gymnastics team in its quest for its first team gold since 1996.

Thursday's big story: Michael Phelps, who arrives here with 16 Olympic medals -- two shy of the all-time Olympic record of 18 (which he's easily expected to break) -- and his US swimming teammates met with the media.

Phelps and coach Bob Bowman went first on the podium, with Ryan Lochte, the extraordinarily enthusiastic Missy Franklin, and the rest of the team following a half-hour or so later.

Some took that as a sign that Phelps is selfish and separates himself from the team, but that's not the vibe I got at all. Phelps couldn't have been more at ease or engaging, showing a dry sense of humor while being candid and introspective.

While perhaps there's some envy, as Ryan Clary awkwardly suggested a few weeks ago, of Phelps's natural ability, his teammates seem to genuinely like him, including his friendly rival Lochte. And no one had an issue with him having a separate meeting with the press. As Natalie Coughlin put it, "I don't mind it all. If Michael is here with us, he gets about 30 questions, and we sit here like this,'' she said, putting her hand on her cheek and feigning boredom.

I don't know, looks like a pretty likable and united crew here:

Mind the gap, and stay right here for further updates.


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