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TWENTY TWELVE; It's a funny old Games...

ACCORDING to twitchers, the release of homing pigeons has been a symbolic part of Olympic opening ceremonies since those of ancient Greece.

And although our feathered friends were gazumped by David Beckham and Boris Johnson to prominent roles in Danny Boyle's extravagant cabaret to open London 2012, pigeon fanciers have not forgotten their history.

As a prelude to the festivities in the Olympic Park, 200 racing pigeons - including one from the Queen's royal loft at Sandringham - were released at Eastlands, next to Manchester City's ground, with Blue Moon legend Joe Corrigan and a delegation from the Royal Mercian Regiment forming a guard of honour.

By royal appointment, the bird from Her Majesty's coop was armed with a good-luck message for Team GB.

When the Olympics last came to London in 1948, a young Princess Elizabeth stood beside her father, King George VI, at Wembley as he released 2,000 royal racing pigeons to declare the Games officially open.

And no matter how much Usain Bolt's fans coo over the Jamaican's sprint achievements, Trafalgar Square's oldest residents would leave him standing.

Bolt can run 100m in 9.58sec, but a top racing pigeon will cover that distance in 2.03sec, or 110mph.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 28, 2012
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