It's off and running

Queensland rookie Chris Burton wll make his Games debut in the three-day competition alongside seven-time Olympian Andrew Hoy.
Queensland rookie Chris Burton wll make his Games debut in the three-day competition alongside seven-time Olympian Andrew Hoy. Michael Steele - Getty Images

THE opening ceremony might be on Saturday morning Australian time, but the on-field action has already kicked off.

Not surprisingly, football was given the honour with the Great Britain women's team taking on New Zealand in Cardiff early this morning.

It was the first time a team representing Great Britain has participated in a women's Olympic football tournament, qualifying automatically as the host nation.

It was also an extra special moment for New Zealander Annalie Longo, becoming the first woman in history to play in every major football tournament at every level.

The 21-year-old started the run at the 2006 U20 World Cup in Russia, and followed that up with the senior and U17 World Cups. The Olympics will complete the set.

Men's football action starts tonight with Spain, Great Britain and Brazil all involved.

Great Britain should have no trouble disposing of Senegal despite having lost 2-0 to Brazil in its final warm-up match last week, while tournament favourite Spain will take on Japan.

Australia did not qualify for either the men's or women's football tournament in London.

The only sport scheduled on the day of the opening ceremony is archery.

The program will explode into action on Saturday with medals to be decided in six sports - swimming, cycling, fencing, judo, shooting and swimming - and qualifying events to be held in another 12.

One of those is eventing where Queensland rookie Chris Burton wll make his Games debut in the three-day competition alongside seven-time Olympian Andrew Hoy.

Burton has been training with the eventing team in the English countryside in Gloucestershire and said he's used the time to learn from Australia's most experienced athlete - seven-time Olympian Andrew Hoy.

"I've loved talking to Andrew and getting closer to him because as a child he was always a rider I admired," Burton said. "I've been talking to him about some of the Olympics and history he's been through.

"It's exciting to have someone of his calibre on our team - we feel that little bit of confidence knowing he's got so much team experience. That's a big advantage."

Burton, 30, said he had worked so hard for so long it felt surreal to actually be part of the Olympic Games.

"Visiting the Olympic Village, getting my uniform, that's when it really hit home for me," he said. "I have to be careful to stay focused and not get over excited by it all."

Topics:  london olympics

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