London Olympics start in Wales
The first event of London 2012 won't take place at Olympic Park but some 132 miles away in Wales, where women's football gets the Games underway on Wednesday -- two days before the opening ceremony.india Updated: Jul 25, 2012 00:18 IST
The first event of London 2012 won't take place at Olympic Park but some 132 miles away in Wales, where women's football gets the Games underway on Wednesday -- two days before the opening ceremony.
Hosts Great Britain will play their first match in an Olympic women's football tournament when they face New Zealand in the Millennium Stadium, in the Welsh capital Cardiff.
An Olympic Games can provide a sport that otherwise struggles for attention with a huge boost -- for example, there was a surge of interest in hockey in Britain after the men's team won gold at Seoul in 1988.
Now Hope Powell, coach of the British women's football team, wants her side to make the most of their turn in the spotlight.
"It puts women's football out there, puts it on the map and hopefully will showcase the sport," Powell told the BBC.
"It's our first time as Team GB and you will be nervous, but I'm sure they will rise to the occasion," added Powell, who also coaches the England women's team.
"It is the first event, which is fantastic for us -- I hope it will be a real positive.
"Hopefully, because there aren't other sports taking place that day, the media interest will be unprecedented."
Wednesday's game will mark the first Olympic match by a combined British team since 1960, when Great Britain's men played at the 1960 edition in Rome.
And Powell, echoing the motto made famous by Baron Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympics, said for her side taking part, rather than winning, was a triumph in itself.
"The success is that we are in it," she said. "We will try to get out of the group."
This year Wales will have its largest contingent at an Olympics, with 30 athletes confirmed as British team members while Dai Greene, the world 400m hurdles champion, is captain of the track and field team.