3 Apr

Olympic History Set In London

National Lottery Olympic Park Run

History was made on Saturday (March 31) as 5,000 members of the public became the first people to cross the finish line in the 2012 Olympic Stadium finish at the National Lottery Olympic Park Run.

The runners, who were picked at random from almost 43,000 entrants, took part in a five-mile run around the Olympic Park, taking in landmarks such as the Velodrome and Aquatics Centre, before finishing inside the iconic stadium.

Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrice took part in the unique race alongside former Olympians and Paralympians. Several celebrities also took part, including model Nell McAndrew who finished as first lady in 29:21.

Tommy Davies, 26-year-old from Loughborough, was the first runner across the Olympic finish line in a time of 25 minutes and 11 seconds, faster than the current Olympic record of 25.11.2 set by Emil Voigt at the 1908 Olympics in London which was the last time the distance of five miles was run at the Olympic Games. He said: "It was fantastic. I am so overwhelmed by all this attention. It's such a great opportunity to have been able to take part. The Park looks fantastic and I'll feel great watching the games knowing I've crossed that line first today."

Princess Beatrice, who started the landmark event at 2pm on Saturday before completing the five mile course, said: "I am thrilled to be able to play my part in such an historic occasion and it is fantastic to see the incredible transformation that the Olympic Park has undergone. I, like so many others running on the day, know that the experience of being one of the first to cross the Olympic finish line is an extraordinary moment in what promises to be a memorable year for the nation"

Dianne Thompson, Group CEO of National Lottery operator Camelot, which organised the event, said: "The regeneration of the Olympic Park, the building of the iconic venues and the legacy they will leave long after the Games have only been made possible by the outstanding contribution of National Lottery players. Whether they're coming to the Games or watching at home, they should feel proud that none of it would have been possible without them."

Gail Emms, Olympic silver medallist in badminton at Athens 2004, was one of a number of ex-athletes invited to run inside the Olympic Park. She said: "It's fantastic to be running inside the Olympic Park and crossing the finish line inside the Olympic Stadium. The Olympic Park is looking superb now and it really brings it home to you how close the Games are. This has been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the thousands of members of the public to run here, even before the elite athletes!"

Former Paralympic champion Danny Crates added: "The National Lottery Olympic Park Run has been brilliant and I'm honoured and delighted to be a part of it. Like so many other Olympic and Paralympic athletes, the National Lottery helped me reach my potential and I'm incredibly grateful for that. The 5000 members of the public in the run have been given a taste of just what it will be like for the athletes when it comes to Games time."

While the 5,000 runners tackled the Olympic Park course, around 12,000 family and friends got their first glimpse of the Olympic Stadium track as they were entertained by dance troupe Flawless and electronic string quartet Escala amongst others, which was hosted by TV presenter Holly Willoughby and former GB sprinter Iwan Thomas.

The Olympic Park Run was staged to celebrate the National Lottery's contribution of up to £2.2 billion towards the funding of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games including the venues and infrastructure where Britain's athletes hope to fulfil their dreams this summer.