Golden girl Katie dances her way to the Olympics opening ceremony

AS MORE than a billion people watched the London 2012 Olympic Games opening ceremony, a keen Saffron Walden dancer took centre-stage.

Katie Appleby, of Shepherds Way, was one of a handful of young dancers to appear in Danny Boyle’s modern day ‘love story’, played out at the Olympic stadium on Friday.

It took six auditions for her to land the role in the scene – about a boy and girl who woo each other through text messages and social media – and she attended more than 150 hours of rehearsals.

But the 20-year-old was delighted to be involved and described her 15 minutes in the spotlight as “surreal but amazing”.

“I never thought we’d get that much coverage until the last week of tech and dress rehearsals. It was then I realised that this was a really big deal,” said Katie, whose mum, dad and sister got to see the dress rehearsals.

“I wasn’t that nervous during the live performance. There were so many lights that you couldn’t see the crowds, so I just got on with it.

“As a group we had a chance to see the industrial and NHS sections during rehearsals – I knew then how amazing it was going to look and that we were part of something special.”

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The adventure for Katie, a politics student at Leeds University, started in November after she replied to an e-mail advertising auditions for the show.

“I went to a couple of auditions before they narrowed it down,” she said.

“They told me they were interested in giving me more of a role but we really didn’t know too much – they wanted to keep it secret!”

Katie, who works at The Eight Bells in Bridge Street during the holidays, is now coming back down to earth after playing such a key role in the historic event.

“I’m not expecting fame from it but it was such as great experience and I learned a lot,” she said.

“I have always wanted to be a dancer so it was a great opportunity for me.

“We worked with a lot of very talented people and Danny Boyle was just lovely – he was really down to earth.”