LONDON - Agence France-Presse
The first event of London 2012 won’t take place at Olympic Park but some 132 miles away in Wales, where women’s football gets the Games underway today - two days before the opening ceremony.
Hosts Great Britain will play its first match in an Olympic women’s football tournament when it faces New Zealand in the Millennium Stadium, in the Welsh capital Cardiff.
An Olympic Games can provide a sport that otherwise struggles for attention with a huge boost - for example, there was a surge of interest in hockey in Britain after the men’s team won gold at Seoul in 1988.
Now Hope Powell, coach of the British women’s football team, wants her side to make the most of their turn in the spotlight.
“It puts women’s football out there, puts it on the map and hopefully will showcase the sport,” Powell told the BBC.
“It’s our first time as Team GB and you will be nervous, but I’m sure they will rise to the occasion,” added Powell, who also coaches the England women’s team.
“It is the first event, which is fantastic for us -- I hope it will be a real positive,” she added.
Today’s game will mark the first Olympic match by a combined British team since 1960, when Great Britain’s men played at the 1960 edition in Rome. This year Wales will have its largest contingent at an Olympics, with 30 athletes confirmed as British team members while Dai Greene, the world 400m hurdles champion, is captain of the track and field team.