More than one billion people from all corners of the globe watched the Opening Ceremony of London’s Olympic Games on July 27.
That was almost the entire population of China who tuned in to witness arguably the greatest sports show on earth.
INEOS was watching too – for a host of reasons.
As a company, it had been greatly cheered by the Olympic organisers’ decision to embrace PVC and all its magical qualities in creating the Olympic Park.
As a company with manufacturing sites in Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Norway, Sweden, UK and USA, employees of many nations were cheering for their own home-grown athletes.
And for some, like Jerry Tweddle and Manfred Hartung, who both work for INEOS, it was deeply personal as their offspring British gymnast Beth and German fencer Max aimed to bring home gold during this summer’s Games.
As INCH went to press, Max had narrowly failed to beat Hungarian Aron Szilagyi to win a place in the semi-finals of the men’s sabre event.
But Beth went on to become the first British woman to ever win an Olympic medal in individual women’s gymnastics. In a tense final at North Greenwich Arena, the 27-year-old earned a bronze medal after qualifying for the uneven bars final with one of the best routines of her life.
Organisers of this summer’s London 2012 Games said it had taken weeks to prepare the Olympic Stadium in Stratford, East London, for the extravagant Opening Ceremony entitled Isles of Wonder.
“We wanted to capture a picture of ourselves as a nation, where we have come from and where we want to be,” said Danny Boyle, London 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony Artistic Director.
The lighting of the cauldron in the 80,000-seater stadium with the Olympic flame signalled the start of the 16-day event and the end of the 70-day torch relay, involving 8,000 torchbearers, that had begun at Land’s End in Cornwall on May 19 when Ben Ainslie, three times Olympic gold medallist in sailing, set off on the first leg of the 8,000-mile journey.
During its epic relay, the flame travelled – apart from on foot – by lifeboat, steam train, rowing boat, on horseback, via a zip wire, cable car and across Loch Ness, and passed a host of historic landmarks such as Aintree Racecourse, The Eden Project, Caernarfon Castle, Stonehenge, Clifton Suspension Bridge, Trafalgar Square, Downing Street and Buckingham Palace.
It was handled, among others, by former Olympic runner Brendan Foster, Jerry Tweddle’s daughter Beth, who is now considered Britain’s best-ever gymnast, and of course INEOS firefighter Craig Hannah.
The torch had been tested in BMW’s climatic testing facility in Munich, Germany, to ensure it could withstand Britain’s changeable weather.
And although the flame did go out due to a malfunctioning burner in Devon, it remained alight when it reached the highest point of all on the London 2012 Torch Relay – the 3,560ft (1,085m) summit of Snowdon in North Wales.
In fact, the weather was near perfect when mountaineer Sir Chris Bonington, 77, who conquered Mount Everest in 1975, stood on the Welsh summit, holding the flame aloft.