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The eyes of the world move to Hyde Park today as the Women’s Triathlon takes place at London’s famous city park.

The Royal Parks Chief Executive Linda Lennon CBE said:

"I truly believe that there could not be a more iconic location for the Olympic Triathlon than London’s spectacular Hyde Park. The Serpentine is home to swimmers 365 days a year, but to see the world’s top triathletes powering through this famous lake, before cycling and running throughout the park will be something to behold. We are expecting the atmosphere in Hyde Park to be exhilarating and our park team have done a marvellous job preparing for what I believe to be one of the highlights of the London 2012 Games. The Royal Parks is absolutely behind our fantastic Team GB athletes - Helen Jenkins, Vicky Holland and Lucy Hall."

Team GB member and Triathlon World Champion Helen Jenkins said:

"Hyde Park looks amazing, the park looked fantastic for the test event last year - but the team has really gone above and beyond for the Games. It’s been amazing to see Hyde Park transform into an Olympic venue."

Athletes will dive into the famous Serpentine Lake and swim one 1.5km lap before coming out of the water and cycling 43km - a seven lap course which takes athletes along the southern edge of the park, out of Hyde Park corner, down Green Park’s Constitution Hill and past Buckingham Palace.

The competition will finish with a 10km run - four laps of The Serpentine Lake - to the roar of spectators who will be lining the course.

Hyde Park is etched in history, covering over 350 acres, Henry VIII acquired Hyde Park from the monks of Westminster Abbey.

For King Henry, Hyde Park was a private hunting ground he would thunder around on horseback pursuing deer, and it remained that way until James I came to the throne and permitted limited public access. It was however Charles I who changed the nature of the park completely and opened it to the public in 1637.

Major historical events in Hyde Park’s history include:

  • During the Great Plague in 1665 many citizens of London fled to camp on Hyde Park in the hope of escaping the disease.
  • At the end of the 17th century William III moved his court to Kensington Palace. He found that his walk to St James's was very dangerous, so he had 300 oil lamps installed, creating the first artificially lit highway in the country. This route later became known as Rotten Row, which is a corruption of the French 'Route de Roi' or King's Road.
  • Queen Caroline, wife of George II, had extensive renovations carried out and in the 1730s had The Serpentine, a lake of some 11.34 hectares, created.

Ms Lennon continued:

"While hundreds of thousands of people will come to Hyde Park this year to celebrate the London 2012 Games - the park has a long history as the venue for national celebrations. Two hundred years ago in 1814 the Prince Regent put on a fireworks show to mark the end of the Napoleonic Wars and in Queen Victoria’s time the Great Exhibition was held in 1851. But this summer is one like no other, Hyde Park is hosting both the Olympic Triathlon and Marathon Swim events, at BT London Live Hyde Park we have four giant screens and daily concerts - and we also have the largest London 2012 pop-up shop. There is no doubt Hyde Park is the place to be during the London 2012 Games."

Ends

For further information about The Royal Parks, please contact the London 2012 Communications Team on 0300 061 2082 or 0300 061 2148 or 2012press@royalparks.gsi.gov.uk.

Notes for Editors

About The Royal Parks and the London 2012 Games

The Royal Parks, which manages eight Royal Parks including Hyde Park, will play a central role in helping to deliver a successful London 2012 Games. In addition to hosting BT London Live Hyde Park, the largest Live Site in London, 11 Olympic and Paralympic events will take place across six Royal Parks. These events include the Triathlon and Marathon Swimming competitions in Hyde Park, the Equestrian and Modern Pentathlon events in Greenwich Park and within St James’ Park, the Beach Volleyball competition on Horse Guards Parade and the Road Race events on The Mall.

Almost 40 million Londoners and tourists visit the eight Royal Parks each year. The 5,000 acres of historic parkland provide unparalleled opportunities for enjoyment, exploration and healthy living in the heart of London. The Royal Parks are: Bushy Park, The Green Park, Greenwich Park, Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, The Regent’s Park and Primrose Hill, Richmond Park and St James's Park. For further information please visit: www.royalparks.org.uk or sign up at www.facebook.com/TheRoyalParksLondon.

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