Commonwealth Games 2002
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Friday, 26 July, 2002, 00:15 GMT 01:15 UK
Beckham reigns supreme
Sir Steve Redgrave gets proceedings underway
Sir Steve Redgrave shows his drumming prowess

All week we had wondered. Could the rumours be true? Would Shaun Ryder really be the man to hand the Commonwealth baton to Queen Elizabeth II?

Such thoughts were temporarily placed on ice as the lights dimmed and on came Sir Steve Redgrave.

Britain's greatest ever Olympian walked purposefully to a giant Malay drum, seized a pair of sticks and KABOOM! battered out a mighty rhythm, much like Phil Collins at the peak of his wondrous powers.

Immediately a staccato response boomed out from five female drummers down the other end of the field, who were thumping away at what looked like old washing machines and kitchen sinks.

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Redgrave ditched the sticks and ran for the sanctuary of the stands.
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Unfazed, Sir Steve rattled off a flashier roll - only for them to reply in kind.

Spirits rose. Were we about to witness a spectacular battle of the beats, with Redgrave trading ever more complex runs with the flailing ladies, much as Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood might trade guitar licks at a Stones gig?

Sadly, no. Redgrave suddenly reached the end of his talents, ditched the sticks and ran for the sanctuary of the stands.

With a fanfare from the band of the Grenadier Guards, the Queen's Bentley cruised into the stadium.

Pre-Games talk had been that Liz and Phil would break with tradition and parachute into the triple-jump pit - but once again the organisers had caught us out.

Sporting a tasteful lime jacket and hat, Her Majesty took her seat just in time for the appearance of S Club.

How former Club member Paul Cattermole must have been kicking himself.

The New Zealand team do the haka
The New Zealand team do the haka
Earlier this year he famously quit the band so he could grow a straggly goatee, put on weight and form a nu-metal combo.

When Bradley leapt onto a podium, waved at Prince Edward and starting miming badly to 'Don't Stop Moving', his every move said it loud and clear - who's laughing now, Paul?

All too soon, the gang were gone. With alphabetical precision, the 72 countries began marching round the track.

Bermuda strolled out wearing - come now, you must have guessed - Bermuda shorts.

The Australians, having missed the chance to don hats with corks, winced visibly.

Montserrat, hereon known as 'plucky Montserrat' - or indeed Gavin, for they have but one team member - drew murmurs of support from the sympathetic crowd.

A huge roar went up as the England team entered the arena.

Decked out in white and tracksuits that would not have looked out of place on Jimmy Saville circa 1982, they waved and jumped and cavorted for the cameras.

David Beckham, complete with new haircut, acknowledges the crowd
David Beckham salutes the crowd

But the best was yet to come.

As the baton was passed from Commonwealth legend to Commonwealth legend - Denise Lewis, Moses Kiptanui, Donovan Bailey - a lone figure, dressed all in white, came from the tunnel like the Messiah himself.

Forget Shaun Ryder. It was David Beckham, and he had a new haircut.

Gone was the faux-hican of Japan and Korea. In its place was - well - the Iwan Thomas.

In tribute to the reigning Commonwealth 400m champion, Becks had reached for bleach and rocked the funky cockatoo.

Even the Queen looked impressed.

BBC Sport's Harry Peart
"It turned the stadium into a giant nightclub"

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