Tour de France hero Bradley Wiggins rang the giant bell which marked the start of the opening ceremony.
Wearing a yellow jersey Wiggins, fresh from his victory as the first British man to win the Tour, was greeted with cheers at the Olympic Park.
It was the dramatic start of a breathtaking spectacular capturing the best of Britain to launch the long-awaited Games as the eyes of the world turned on London.
The world’s largest harmonically-tuned bell, weighing 23 tonnes and two metres tall by three metres wide, rang inside the stadium to start a Shakespeare-inspired spectacle featuring 900 children from east London.
The bell, produced by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, is inscribed with a quote from The Tempest’s Caliban: “Be not afeard, the isle is full of noises”.