London Olympics: "I never dreamed I would get tickets"

In 2012 London will host the Olympics for the third time in the history of the Games.

The event has faced challenges in the past year with questions being raised over its £9.3 billion budget, and many people were disappointed when they struggled to log on to the tickets website.

As the capital begins its preparations, BBC News website readers look back at some of the events which have marked the progress to London 2012.

The opening ceremony

The opening ceremony of the Olympics will take place on Friday, 27 July.

The Olympic stadium, which will host the ceremony, seats 80,000 people.

Image caption Daniel Barnes will take his girlfriend Victoria Hart to the opening ceremony

Daniel Barnes, from Lincoln, told the BBC that he and his girlfriend Victoria had secured tickets to the opening ceremony:

"I never dreamed I would get tickets to the Olympics.

"I have grown up with sport and have always believed in its ability to benefit everyone. The Olympics are the pinnacle of sporting achievement - you get to see the best competing against the best.

"I am looking forward to getting my 'Team GB' flag and T-shirt to support our athletes. This will be a unique experience and I am going to make the most of it.

"I will be travelling from Newark and I plan to treat myself and my girlfriend to first-class tickets on the train.

"We'll be booking a hotel for the evening of the opening ceremony. I'm hoping the prices won't be too inflated. After that we will be heading to Maidenhead and will be commuting in and out of London for a few days to soak up the atmosphere.

"My girlfriend and I are both graduating from university next year and this will be an amazing way to toast three years of hard work.

"Demand for Olympics tickets was of course high, so much credit should go to the organisers for providing the service. Although I didn't have problems with the website, I know others did. I think it just shows how many people wanted to be a part of it.

"I'll be logging on again in January as my cousin is a brilliant runner who has competed at the UK junior games. I would love to take her to an event to motivate her to reach the international stage.

"I think the reach of the Olympics goes far beyond a monetary figure and will provide a sustainable future for employment in the immediate Stratford area.

"Volunteers who are out of work at the moment have an opportunity to be part of this unique experience as well as gaining transferable skills to take forward.

"I believe it will, in the short term, provide an amazing spectacle which will lift the nation's spirit and remind us what it means to be British.

"These memories will last a lifetime."

Ticket disappointment

Many would-be Olympics spectators were disappointed earlier in the year when the tickets website experienced problems.

The BBC was contacted by many readers - happy ticket holders and also those who had failed to get tickets for their chosen events.

Diane Hackney, from Walthamstow, was successful, but says that she regrets that many local residents have not been as lucky:

"I have been fortunate enough to secure tickets to two of the events but other residents in the five boroughs have not been as lucky.

"I am glad to have the tickets but it makes me feel a bit guilty at the same time.

"I work in the community and I spent half of my time trying to help people log on to the tickets website to get something.

"We all assumed most of us would get tickets, but I only know about six people in this area who have.

"At the time of the Olympics being announced, we were told that local children would play a role in the Games.

"Schools have been getting people ready, taking trips to the Games and getting excited. It feels that they are not now as involved as they should be.

"I feel that people are disappointed. Local residents are also dreading what the area will be like during those two weeks. Many of them are opting to go away."

The Olympic Torch

The Olympic Torch was unveiled in June and is due to arrive in the UK on 18 May 2012.

The nomination programmes for torchbearers earlier this year were aimed at recognising people who had made great personal achievements or contributions to the community.

In December, thousands of nominees were given conditional offers to bear the torch.

Image caption "I started jumping around and screaming - I was so happy"

Olivia Ford, from Derbyshire, has been chosen to be a torchbearer. The 14-year-old has cystic fibrosis, diabetes and liver disease. She told the BBC:

"I was never expecting to be chosen as a torchbearer but I came home from school one day and my mum told me she had applied for it on my behalf.

"When I was chosen, I didn't believe it at first. 'Surprise! You got it', my mum said.

"I started jumping around and screaming - I was so happy.

"I'm really excited about the experience but I'm a bit nervous too. You always worry about these sorts of things that you might trip and drop it! People keep saying to me: 'Don't you have to run a mile with it?'

"I love watching the gymnastics although I can't do it myself. That's going to be the highlight of the Games for me. My family and I are going to be glued to the TV watching the games.

"My friends and family have been so supportive of me. People keep saying to me: 'Aren't you the girl who's been chosen to carry the torch?'

"I feel very proud, I feel very loved. It's a big responsibility but I know I'll be so happy on the day."

The events

The London 2012 Olympics will feature 26 sports. The site is 90% complete and will house sporting centres as well as an Olympics village and a new urban park.

Image caption "I knew I had been really lucky"

Gabrielle Reason told the BBC that she had secured tickets for the rowing finals, which will take place at the Dorney rowing lake:

"I had only applied for rowing finals tickets so I knew I had them as soon as the money went out of my account.

"So many people around me had also got tickets that I thought it wasn't that big a deal. I then started seeing discontent all over Facebook and in the media, and it was then I knew that I had been really lucky.

"I think the most exciting thing is that the event is going to be at Dorney rowing lake, where I've rowed myself!

"I went to school in Bedford where rowing was a really big deal, but I never got into it. When I went to Oxford, I had a go at everything going and just fell in love with rowing.

"It's a big commitment alongside your studies, but totally worth it.

"My sister got two tickets to the 200m final and will be taking my brother who's absolutely mad about the Olympics and she'll be working there as well.

"My boyfriend got tickets to the 100m final as well, which is quite a good reason to stay together!

"I think the Olympics will be absolutely fantastic for London, although the number of visitors who'll be around will be a bit scary.

"I work in central London so I'd imagine it'll be like Oxford Street at Christmas time, only everywhere.

"It's great to have something so positive and uplifting coming to London in the wake of quite a depressing year, with the riots and the financial crises.

"The royal wedding was a great example of people coming together to celebrate their national identity, so I'm hoping the vibe will be similar."

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