The schedule of events for the London 2012 Olympic Games has been released. The first action will be women’s football in Cardiff, Glasgow and Coventry on 25 July, two days before the official opening of the Games.
The middle weekend promises to be unmissable, with British trio Jessica Ennis, Christine Ohuruogu and Paula Radcliffe set to be going for gold.
The men’s 100m final, with Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt likely to be centre stage, takes place on Sunday, 5 August.
The dates, times, venues and prices for more than 600 sessions of competition across all 26 Olympic sports will be emailed to the 2.2m people who have signed up for information ahead of tickets going on sale on 15 March.
London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe described them as the “greatest tickets on earth for the greatest show on earth”.
Double Olympic champion Coe said: “This is a really big moment, a huge moment.
“In my own experience as a competitor this is the point that it suddenly becomes very real.
“I remember this point in the build-up to Los Angeles, and suddenly realising I was going to be running seven races in nine days.
“We are now getting to the business end of the project and we know from the number of people who have signed up for ticket information that there is a real hunger from all parts of the country to be there.”
After the women’s football group games on Wednesday and the men’s on Thursday, the opening ceremony of the Games will take place inside the Olympic stadium at 1930 BST on Friday, 27 July.
Mark Cavendish could capture Britain’s first gold of the Games in the men’s cycling road race the following day.
Attention will turn to the Aquatics Centre on Sunday, 29 July, where swimmer Rebecca Adlington hopes to be defending her gold medal in the women’s 400m freestyle.
On Monday, 30 July, swimming legends Michael Phelps and Ian Thorpe could be going head-to-head in the men’s 200m freestyle, while Tom Daley expects to be competing for his first medal of the Games in the 10m synchronised platform diving final.
Rowing, taking place at Eton Dorney, will also feature heavily in the opening week, with Greg Searle’s comeback 20 years after his Barcelona 1992 gold set to be one of the Games’ most romantic tales.
Track cycling, dominated by the British at Beijing in 2008, gets underway at the velodrome on Thursday, 2 August with Sir Chris Hoy hoping to lead the hosts to gold in the men’s team sprint.
The Olympic Stadium’s track and field events begin on the Friday, with Ennis in line to begin her quest for heptathlon gold and finals in the women’s 10,000m and the men’s shot put.
Saturday, 4 August is already being dubbed as “Super Saturday” with the climax of the heptathlon competition and the women’s 100m final taking prime-time slots. The Olympic rowing and swimming competitions will also reach a conclusion.
The following day features an equally mouth-watering array of sport, with Radcliffe and Ohuruogu hoping to be involved in the women’s marathon and 400m final respectively, before a potentially electrifying showdown between Bolt and American Tyson Gay in the men’s 100m.
Coe added: “We can already start to picture what might happen. There is a recognition now that the men’s 100m is a pretty serious moment and we have planned that to be fairly early on the evening of that Sunday.
“The things people remember are head-to-heads and we could potentially have one of the best given that Tyson Gay is going to make this a really tough run for Usain Bolt.”
Also on the middle Sunday, British gymnast Louis Smith should be aiming to surpass his Beijing bronze on the pommel horse at the O2 arena, Ben Ainslie could be lining up to add to his three Olympic titles off the coast of Weymouth and the men’s single’s final will take place at Wimbledon.
Hoy and gymnast Beth Tweddle should be in action on Monday 6 August with Alistair Brownlee expected to be vying for a home gold medal in the men’s Hyde Park triathlon the following day.
Canoeist-cum-doctor Tim Brabants, a gold medallist in Beijing, hopes to defend his kayak single 1000m title at Eton Dorney on Wednesday 8 August.
On Thursday, 9 August, Phillips Idowu could be adding an Olympic title to his world and European crowns in the triple jump final, while the women’s football final takes place at Wembley.
The men’s football final is on the concluding Saturday of the Games when the athletics programme reaches a finale and Daley competes in the individual 10m platform dive.
British boxers Tom Stalker and Bradley Saunders will hope to still be involved when the medals are decided on the final day of the Olympics on Sunday, 12 August.