Belfast Launches Olympic Countdown Events

Belfast City Council is to mark the one year countdown to the London 2012 Olympics with a weekend of events at the City Hall and Ormeau Park.

Among the events being held over the weekend are a community sports day at the Ozone complex on Friday July 22, and interactive Olympics-style challenges, movie screenings and a host of other activities in the City Hall grounds.

The events run in tandem with the London 2012 Open Weekend, which sees a series of sporting and cultural events taking place across the UK involving hundreds of thousands of people participating in events one year before the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Belfast Mayor, Councillor Niall Ó Donnghaile, said: "This is a wonderful opportunity for people here to be part of the excitement and spectacle of the Olympic Games. The big screen has proven to be a big hit, especially during Wimbledon recently, and it is great that it is helping to bring the Olympics into the heart of Belfast, during what is going to be a hugely significant year for our city and its citizens.

"It is going to be a great weekend and I would encourage as many people as possible to come down and be part of it."

Friday's Community Sports Day in Ormeau Park will bring together hundreds of young people from summer schemes across the city to try their hand at a range of free activities, including golf, bowls, watersports, fencing, basketball, rugby and cricket, as well as BMX-ing and dance workshops.

There will also be the chance to try your hand at the unusual Asian sport of kabaddi - a kind of grown-up wrestling, tag, British Bull Dog hybrid where those evading capture must prove they are holding their breath by repeatedly chanting 'Kabaddi'.

A giant Olympic eco-art project will also see a flowerbed transformed into the London 2012 logo. All events are free and open to anyone, so bring the family and a picnic and have a go.

On Saturday and Sunday, attention switches to the big screen in the City Hall grounds. There will be screenings of 'Chariots Of Fire' and the premiere of 'The Tate Movie: The Itch of the Golden Nit!', created by thousands of children across the UK and produced by the creators of Wallace and Gromit.

To top it off, you can take on London 2012-themed interactive games such as 'Swim Wenlock Swim', featuring the games' official mascot, also played out on the big screen There also will be dance performances and workshops, fencing and boxing – including the chance to take on Commonwealth medallist Tommy McCarthy.

Full listings, including the Belfast events, can be found at www.london2012.com/openweekend.

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