New Delhi: Opening ceremony London 2012 is marked by Friday's Google doodle. The doodle shows 5 athletes - incidentally also the number of rings in the Olympic logo - playing different Olympic sports.
Olympics 2012 | Schedule | India at Olympics | Medals Tally
The stage is set and the athletes are primed as the seven-year countdown to the London 2012 Olympics reaches its finale with Friday's much-anticipated opening ceremony.
The three-hour spectacle, expected to be watched by a global television audience of up to one billion, will mark the beginning of 17 days of athletic endeavour which will create heroes, shatter dreams and fire national pride.
But London is preparing for its own intense examination as questions over the city's creaking transport system and the ever-present security threat hang over the event, ready to overshadow on-track achievements.
Sneak previews of the £27 million ($42 million, 35 million euros) opening ceremony - filmed at Wednesday's final rehearsal - suggest it will be a grand but quirky production, reflecting the philosophy of director Danny Boyle.
The Slumdog Millionaire Oscar-winner has promised to create a "picture of us as a nation" and revealed the eccentric show will feature live sheep and dancing surgeons from the National Health Service.
In depicting Britain, warts and all, Boyle has drawn from William Shakespeare, British pop culture, literature and music, and other sources of inspiration that will speak not just to Anglophiles but to people across the globe. One segment involves actor Daniel Craig's James Bond, and former Beatle Paul McCartney will lead a sing-along.
Boyle's Isles of Wonder show will celebrate the green and pleasant land of meadows, farms, cottages, village cricket matches and bird song, but also dwell on Britain's darker industrial past. That's not a surprise from a movie director who depicted Scottish heroin addicts in "Trainspotting" and Indian poor in Slumdog Millionaire.
As well as thousands of athletes and performers, some 60,000 spectators will pack the Olympic Stadium. Political leaders from around the world, U.S. first lady Michelle Obama and her daughters, and a sprinkling of European and celebrity royalty will also attend.
According to the Sunday Times, one section will feature characters from children's fiction classics including Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan - and a showdown between Lord Voldemort, the villain of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books, and a horde of flying magical nannies based on Mary Poppins.
Many of the juiciest and most significant details from the three-hour show, including the identity of the person or people who will light the Olympic cauldron - if, indeed, there is one - remain secret. That is, in itself, remarkable for the first social media Olympics, where the urge to tweet anything and everything is putting more scrutiny than ever on organisers and the 10,902 athletes from 204 countries.
Thousands of VIPs including some 120 national leaders are in town for the event, with guests ranging from Angelina Jolie and US First Lady Michelle Obama to the king of Swaziland.
Germany's Angela Merkel and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda are among the leaders set to attend while Michelle Obama will head the US delegation.
London 2012 Archery: Google doodle 'aims' at the 'target'
New Delhi: The London 2012 Archery action began as Men's and Women's played their ranking rounds. Google too takes a women archer aiming at the target in their 'Google Doodle'.
Legally blind South Korean archer Im Dong-hyun set the first world records of the London Olympics, breaking his own record in the 72-arrow mark and participating in the team shoot record during Friday's ranking round.
Olympics 2012 | Schedule | India at Olympics | Medals Tally
Im broke the 72-arrow record he had set in Turkey in May by three points with a score of 699, hours before the 2012 Games official opening ceremony.
He combined with Kim Bub-min and Oh Jin-hyek, smashing the record for 216 arrows with a total 2,087. That was 18 better than the mark South Korea set in May.
Im, 26, won gold medals in the team event in both the Beijing and Athens Olympics. He has only 10 percent vision in his left eye, and 20 percent in his right, meaning he is considered legally blind.
India's campaign at the London Olympics got off to a disappointing start after both the men and women's archery teams finished at the bottom of the table in the ranking rounds at the Lord's Cricket Ground here on Friday.
While the trio of Jayanta Talukdar, Tarundeep Rai and Rahul Banerjee finished at the bottom of the heap at 12th in the men's competition, their women counterparts were a shade better at ninth spot.
World number one Deepika Kumari was the best-placed Indian of the day as she finished eighth with a score of 662 in the women's individual event.
Starting the proceedings earlier, the Indian men's trio combined for a score of 1969 on a day when defending champions Korea shattered the team world record with a tally of 2087 to lead the rankings.
In the men's individual event, Tarundeep Rai finished 31st with 664 points from 72 shots, while Banerjee was at 46th with 655 points, followed by Talukdar at 53rd with 650 points.
In the women's individual competition, L Bombayla Devi's score of 651 (327+324) helped her to the 22nd spot, while Swuro Chekrovolu finished at the 50th place after scoring 625 (309+316).
Michael Phelps-Ryan Lochte set for first London duel
Five things to know about Saturday, when 12 gold medals are awarded on Day 1 of the 2012 Olympics:
-Phelps-Lochte headed for first London showdown.
-Surprise torch lighters highlighted a dazzling start to the games.
-Legally blind archer has a new world record.
-A headscarf standoff poses a problem for a Saudi judo fighter.
-The IOC calls London's prep for games "excellent."
The opening ceremony provided a rousing start to the games, but the focus quickly shifts to the pool.
Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte face off Saturday in the 400-meter individual medley, a grueling race encompassing all four strokes and an appropriate next chapter in this most intriguing of rivalries.
"A very rough race," said Phelps' coach, Bob Bowman. "It will be a coach's dream, but also a spectator's dream. It will be fantastic."
Phelps wants to add to his record total of 14 gold medals and become the first male swimmer to win the same event at three straight Olympics. But Lochte is the defending world champion and defeated Phelps rather easily at the U.S. trials last month.
Lochte is certainly not lacking for confidence.
"Right after Beijing, I had a four-year plan for getting here to London," he said. "I thought I could go a lot faster. I knew I could, just because of the training I've done. That's why I knew this was going to be my year."
There will be four finals at the Aquatics Center on Saturday. Medals also will be awarded in archery, cycling, fencing, judo, shooting and weightlifting.
The cycling gold goes to the winner of the road race, where Mark Cavendish is the favorite, tasked with providing a memorable start for the host country.
After days of speculation, there's an answer to the question that dominated London in the run-up to the games: Who would light the Olympic torch?
Was it Roger Bannister? Steve Redgrave? David Beckham?
Nope, nope and nope.
Seven teenage British athletes lowered torches to trumpet-like tubes that spread into a ring of fire during one of the signature moments of director Danny Boyle's $42 million show. The copper "petals" then rose skyward and came together to form the elegant cauldron.
Fireworks erupted over the stadium to music from Pink Floyd. With a singalong of "Hey Jude," Beatle Paul McCartney closed a show that ran 45 minutes beyond its scheduled three hours.
The other big highlight? A clever video that gave the illusion of Queen Elizabeth II parachuting into the Olympic Stadium with James Bond, aka actor Daniel Craig playing Britain's most famous spy.
A South Korean athlete is celebrating a London first: He recorded the first world record of the games. Im Dong-hyun, who is legally blind, broke his own record Friday in the 72-arrow mark and helped South Korea set a team record in the ranking round.
"This is just the first round, so I will not get too excited by it," said Im, who has 10 percent vision in his left eye and 20 percent in his right.
Im bettered the record he set in Turkey in May by three points with a score of 699. He also combined with Kim Bub-min and Oh Jin-hyek, smashing the record for 216 arrows with a total 2,087. That was 18 better than the mark South Korea set in May.
Im has said that when he looks at the targets, he sees colors with blurred lines between them. He doesn't wear glasses in competition, saying he relies on distinguishing between the bright colors of the target.
Talks are also under way to allow judoka Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani to compete after the sport's governing federation said she would not be allowed to wear a headscarf.
Saudi Arabia, which sent its first two female athletes to the games, had only agreed to let women participate if they adhered to the kingdom's conservative Islamic traditions, including wearing a headscarf.
Nicolas Messner, a spokesman for the International Judo Federation, said there was "good collaboration" to find a solution among judo officials, the International Olympic Committee and Saudi Arabia.
Messner said wearing a headscarf could be dangerous because the sport includes chokeholds and strangleholds.
International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge praised the local organizing committee, saying the preparations were "excellent."
"The key ingredients for successful games are good security, a good village, venues and transportation that works," he said. "If we have all that, we will have very good games. I am optimistic and confident."
Rogge was asked how ready London was at this stage compared with previous host cities.
"I would think in terms of readiness these games equal the readiness of Sydney and Beijing definitely," he said. "But the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Ask me again at the closing ceremony."