Excitement builds as Olympic Park nears completion

It seems like a lifetime ago when we saw those images of celebrations as it was announced that London had won the bid for the 2012 Olympic Games.

And now, seven years later, a part of east London has been totally transformed.

What used to be an industrial wasteland filled with old shopping trolleys, discarded washing machines and 52 pylons, is now a place where the hopes and dreams of many are set to come alive.

The whole Olympic Park may not be quite completed yet but it no longer feels like as much of a construction site as it did less than a year ago.

And as workers install art installations like the word 'run' in large, silver letters, and redesign work takes place on the BMX track, the completed Olympic stadium, velodrome and aquatics centre stand proud.


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Test events have already given an indication that these Games will be special – records were broken at last month's UCI Track Cycling World Cup and history was made at the FINA Diving World Cup – and our tour guide, former Olympic triple jump champion Jonathan Edwards, is convinced this summer's Olympics will be the 'best there has ever been'.

As we took our tour around the 2.5sqkm site, Mr Edwards said: 'In terms of a venue or a site for the Olympics, I'm convinced it will be the best there has ever been. I have to pinch myself every time I look around it.

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'It's phenomenal what has been done in a relatively short space of time. In terms of hosting an Olympic Games and a Paralympic Games, the atmosphere will be amazing.

'The breadth of the vision – and not just the hosting of the Games but all the different projects all over the country – I never thought it would be as good as this.'

The velodrome was the first sporting venue on the park to be completed in February last year.

Construction of the other main venues – the Olympic stadium, aquatics centre, international broadcast and press centres, the basketball arena and the handball arena – was completed on time and within budget by summer 2011.

More than 8km of waterways navigate the site and a polyclinic and school have been built for post-Games.

Since I visited the site last June, the water polo arena has been completed, the controversial Orbit Tower has reached its full height, the first completed apartments in the athletes' village have been unveiled and the main dining area has gone up.

Mr Edwards, who is a member of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Locog), said the site was 'like nothing else I've ever been in before'.

'There are a lot of venues here,' he said. 'Beijing was much more spread out but here it feels much more connected – this has real character.'

It seems unreal that the moment for London to shine is almost upon us but in just a few months' time, the Olympic Park will no longer be filled with construction workers making the final touches but instead will be brimming with excitement, cheers, hope and glory.

The long wait is almost over, excitement is building and – just to be safe, touch a piece of wood – we look like we're just about ready for it.

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