LONDON - Big Ben chimed 40 times. The archers were on target with two world records at Lord's cricket ground. And the opening ceremony expected to feature real farm animals and former Beatle Paul McCartney was set to dazzle London's Olympic Park.
Finally, let the games begin.
Seven years after the British capital won the right to host the Olympics, a hazy and cloudy London celebrated the official start of the 30th version of the Summer Games.
After two days of football preliminaries outside London, the city held its first Olympic competition Friday — archery at the hallowed cricket ground. There was some confusion at the site when people mistakenly thought they could enter the free competition without a ticket.
There were no such problems on the pitch, where South Korean archers set the first two world records of London 2012.
Im Dong-hyun, who is legally blind, broke his own individual record for 72 arrows and joined Kim Bub-min and Oh Jin-hyek to set a team record for 216 arrows.
Earlier Friday, Big Ben, one of the city's most recognizable landmarks, chimed for three minutes in honour of the opening ceremony featuring Queen Elizabeth II and directed by celebrated filmmaker Danny Boyle. Oh, and 70 sheep, 12 horses, 10 chickens and three sheep dogs, among others, with former Beatle McCartney reportedly set to end the three-hour show.
The weather office was predicting a dry evening, with only a low risk of a shower, although it did point out that it could not vouch for any 'artificial' rain reportedly set for part of the ceremony.
On Saturday, archery was to present its first medals in men's team competition, part of a blockbuster 19-sport schedule on the first full day of competition.
One of the biggest events Saturday will be the men's cycling road race featuring Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins and world champion Mark Cavendish, who could help give Britain its first gold medal of the games.
"It's a dream team," Cavendish said. "We've got the first and second of the Tour de France, four guys who won stages at the Tour de France, the British champion, four guys incredibly motivated, four guys incredibly patriotic, incredibly loyal to each other."
Other sports included women's basketball — featuring the gold medal-favourite United States against Croatia and perennial silver medallists Australia against Britain, and preliminary women's beach volleyball at the Horse Guards Parade.
At the Aquatics Centre, Australian Stephanie Rice hoped to repeat her 400-meter individual medley gold medal from Beijing. Other sports included men's bantamweight and middleweight boxing, the dressage portion of three-day eventing in equestrian, fencing, gymnastics, judo, rowing at Windsor outside London, shooting, table tennis, handball and tennis at Wimbledon.