Greenwich Park begins Olympic preparations

Greenwich Park has been closed as it prepares to host the London 2012 equestrian and modern pentathlon Olympic events.

Owned by the Crown and a World Heritage site, the majority of the 183-acre park will have to be closed until the start of the Olympics. Although visitors staying in central London hotels should be aware that the Children's Playground and parts of The Flower Garden will remain open during the Olympic preparations.

Sebastian Coe, the chairman of London 2012, has reassured people that the key venue will be returned to normal after the Olympics.

"We take our responsibilities seriously and will protect the Park and ensure it is returned to the Royal Parks in good condition," said Coe.

"Greenwich Park will be one of the Games' most stunning venues and this will be part of Greenwich's unique history."

It is thought to be the first time the park has been closed to the public since 1820 and highlights how important the Games are to London.

More than 300 horses will be based at the park during the Olympics and a special 21,000 seat spectator area is being built as well as stables and training areas.

The equestrian competition begins on July 28th and is made up of three disciplines – dressage, eventing and jumping – with medals contested on a team and an individual basis.

At the last Olympic Games, Germany took home three gold medals including both the dressage and eventing team competitions but Team GB believe they are in a strong position going into London 2012.

The British squad includes Zara Phillips, Princess Anne’s daughter, and she is hoping to put in a good performance alongside her horse.

"High Kingdom is a pretty cool, very relaxed kind of guy. He's a nippy little jumper and easy to manoeuvre, so hopefully it will suit him well in Greenwich."

"High Kingdom is owned by Trevor Hemmings, who's been one of my earliest supporters – he's owned a lot of my horses and has been so supportive, I couldn't do it without him."

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