THOUSANDS of people turned out to welcome the world to Weymouth and Portland.

After seven long years of planning, the Olympics finally got underway.

Weymouth beach was packed with crowds for the opening ceremony and the loudest cheers were reserved for the sailors of Team GB.

The opening ceremony followed a hugely successful torch relay as thousands of people turned out to welcome the Olympic Flame to Dorset.

People took to the streets for their once in a lifetime chance to see the Olympic Flame pass through.

The torch relay entered the north of the county and criss-crossed Dorset before making a dramatic arrival by boat on Weymouth Beach.

Shooting star Peter Wilson fired the starting gun for the medal rush on his way to Olympic gold for Team GB.

The Dorchester-born shooter won the Double Trap Men’s contest.

Meanwhile, away from the sporting success traders hit out at the ‘shambolic’ state of affairs in Weymouth after the Bayside Festival closed and the organisers went into administration.

Operators Mainsail Ltd went into administration on August 3, with debts of more than £800,000.

The festival had been part of the attractions in Weymouth during the Olympic fortnight and was shut down after a week.

Park and Ride sites were closed as the anticipated crowds failed to show.

But Olympic legend Ben Ainslie brightened the gloom as he led the medal charge on the waters of Weymouth and Portland.

The Team GB sailor became the greatest sailing Olympian of all time as he secured a fourth successive gold medal.

Crowds flocked into Weymouth to watch him secure the title in what became known as ‘Ainslie Sunday’.

The Duchess of Cambridge, meanwhile, left a trail of smitten sailors in her wake when she visited Portland’s Olympic venue.

The Team GB Ambassador showed her support for the athletes and watched the Laser and Last Radial dinghy races.

Weymouth’s windsurfing star Nick Dempsey claimed Olympic silver for Great Britain on his home waters.

An emotional Dempsey, who has lived in Wyke Regis for 11 years, said he was ‘massively happy’.

Immediately after the race he jumped from his coach boat and swam ashore to greet his supporters and loved ones including his three-year-old son Thomas at the Nothe spectator site.

Scenes of jubilation quickly overturned disappointment for missed golds into delight for Olympic silvers secured on home waters for Team GB.

Team GB’s Men’s and Women’s 470 dinghy teams both claimed a place on their respective podiums and brought Britain’s 2012 Olympic sailing medal haul to five.

Team GB’s sailors were given a thunderous welcome as thousands of people lined the streets of Weymouth and Portland for an open-top bus parade.

A total of 15 Olympians, including the record-breaking Ben Ainslie, saluted the crowds as a convoy of police vehicle led the victory bus through the winding streets of the borough.


Paralympic sailors who made us proud

AFTER years of hard work and training Portland’s Paralympic sailing stars began racing at the home Games.

Six British athletes were among 80 competitors from 23 nations vying for glory in three medal events on the water of Portland Harbour.

Britain’s sailors got off to a flying start in the opening weekend of Paralympic sailing races on home waters.

Fiercely competitive fleet racing in Portland Harbour saw the ParalympicsGB contenders make gains towards achieving the country’s first medals in the three keelboat classes.

History was made on the waters of Portland Harbour when Britain’s Paralympic sailors brought home the country’s first medals in the sport.

Top performances by the gold-placed Helena Lucas guaranteed her at least silver in the 2.4 metre keelboat class before the final race.

Golden girl Helena Lucas made history by winning Britain’s first Paralympic sailing medal and its first ever gold. It came on a day when Paralympics GB sailors also bagged a bronze medal and Dorchester athlete Paul Blaze won bronze in the T36 800m.