Tour de France hero Bradley Wiggins rang the giant bell which marked the start of the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games.
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 £27 million opening ceremony - the brainchild of Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle - started simply with the Olympic Stadium turned into a meadow, a green and pleasant land.
On the real grass covering the bowl of the stadium there were hills, a cottage and people enjoying an idyllic version of British life.
The world's largest harmonically-tuned bell, weighing 23 tonnes and measuring two metres tall and three metres wide, rang inside the stadium to start a Shakespeare-inspired spectacle featuring 900 children from the six east London host boroughs.
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". It stood at one end of the stadium in Stratford, east London, while at the opposite end a version of Glastonbury Tor - a holy hill in south west England - was topped off with a giant oak.
A huge waterwheel stood parallel with the 100 metre finish line where, in just a week's time, the fastest men in the world will race to be named Olympic champion.The scene was completed with a road that circled the meadow.
Oscar winner Boyle, the man responsible for the the remarkable transformation of the stadium where the athletics will take place, said: "Tonight's a warm-up act for the Games.
"That's one of the things you have to keep remembering. You big it up for different reasons, and you hear it bigged up or slammed or whatever it is and you've got to keep remembering we're the warm-up act."