While 90,000 people prepared to cram themsleves into the Birds' Nest to celebrate the opening of the 29th Olympiad, things were decidedly more low key back at Team GB's holding camp.

In fact, there was little sign of any ceremony at all, save for a sizeable chocolate cake especially prepared for the competitors still here, (namely the track and field squad and a handful of the judo team) emblazoned with the Olympic rings that have been expertly iced on top.

How suitable cake is for those about to grace the greatest sporting event on earth is a moot point.

Suffice to say, I'm hoping they'll be little take-up so I can indulge myself, having finally conceeded defeat as regards my chances of making the team.

Missing the ceremony is nothing new to those who will soon take centre stage in Beijing's iconic stadium; the scheduling means they arrive well after the welcome party is over.

But having ear-wigged the odd conversation while lying in wait to nab yet another interview, I'm left with the impression that while it would be great to taste such a unique atmosphere, not many of the athletes will be losing too much sleep over missing out.

The serious business is the competing and hopefully, the winning.

Talking of Judo, I bumped into Kate Howey this afternoon, Britain's finest ever female exponent and acting as a Mentor to 29-year-old Karina Bryant, who's about to compete in her third Games and hoping to win her first medal.

Not that the retired Howey, now 35, who made the rostrum at both Barcelona and Sydney wouldn't secretly still rather be out on the mat in the heat of battle, than simply passing on her considerable wisdom.

"I took a look at the draw and felt I could still beat any of them," she tells me and she doesn't appear to be joking. I for one won't be arguing with her.

Its not just Bryant for whom Howey has high hopes. "All seven of the team could win a medal. I know I'll shed some tears if Karina does it. I've known her since she was 12.

"She's one of the best in the world and in the best shape of her life so she should do well."

Lets hope Craig Fallon gets us off to a flying start tomorrow. The good news is he missed the cake.

Philip Studd is a BBC reporter and commentator based at Team GB's pre-Olympics holding camp in Macau. Our FAQs should answer any questions you have.


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