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Olympic Games athletics to begin

The Olympic StadiumThe Olympic Stadium is being used for the first time since the London 2012 opening ceremony

The athletics events get under way at London’s Olympic Stadium later, ensuring the Olympic Park’s busiest day since the Games opened a week ago.

More than 200,000 people will be at the park, prompting warnings for those not attending the Games to avoid the area.

Great Britain have hopes of further gold medals during the day, including in rowing, track cycling and swimming.

Team GB have risen to fifth in the overall medal table with five golds after three were secured on Thursday.

Among the gold medallists on day six were track cyclist Sir Chris Hoy. His victory, with Philip Hindes and Jason Kenny in the team sprint, represented his fifth Olympic title and equalled rower Sir Steve Redgrave’s record British, Olympic gold medal haul.

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Earlier in the Velodrome there had been disappointment as fellow cyclists Victoria Pendleton and Jess Varnish were disqualified from the women’s team sprint for an infringement, after having appeared to have qualified for a final against China.

Pendleton gets a chance to make amends later when she appears in the keirin – one of a number of British competitors who could secure medals.

Hopes are high for rowers Katherine Grainger, who has three silvers from three previous Olympics, and Anna Watkins in the double sculls, swimmer Rebecca Adlington, who defends her 800m freestyle title, and the men’s track cycling pursuit team.

Highly fancied heptathlete Jessica Ennis also gets her campaign under way at the Olympic Stadium, in the 100m hurdles, the high jump, the shot put and the 200m.

Other British athletes in action on Friday will include world champion Dai Greene in the men’s 400m hurdles heats and defending Olympic champion Christine Ohuruogu in the women’s 400m.

In developments on Thursday:

Friday’s events at the 80,000-capacity Olympic stadium will bring thousands more people pouring into the east London park and mean access to the neighbouring Westfield shopping centre will be restricted for the next two days.

Only staff and Olympic ticket holders will be able to go into the centre between 10:30 BST and 17:00 as organisers seek to minimise congestion.

Transport for London (TFL) said public transport services and roads to the Olympic Park would be exceptionally busy on Friday and urged anyone not going to the site to avoid the area.

The Docklands Light Railway, Jubilee and Central lines are expected to be busier than usual, especially in the morning, evening and late-evening peaks and driving in central London should be avoided where possible, TFL said.

London’s transport commissioner Peter Hendy said: “This Friday and Saturday will be the busiest days of the Games so far as the Olympic Stadium opens its doors and sporting events continue to take place across the capital.

“Westfield Stratford City may not be open to shoppers without a ticket during these times but London has a rich and vast array of other attractions to offer during the Games.”

Among other British sporting interest on Friday will be Andy Murray playing Novak Djokovic in the men’s tennis singles semi-finals at Wimbledon, and Great Britain’s women’s football team taking on Canada in their quarter-final match in Coventry.

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