BROMSGROVE sports stars Jess Varnish and Dan Fox face their dates with destiny as the London Olympics explodes into life on Friday.

After seven years of careful planning, blood, sweat, dedication and tears the greatest show on earth will finally get under way when the opening ceremony takes place at the Olympic Stadium on Friday night.

For spectators and the millions watching around the world, it will be just the start of a scintillating fortnight where the world’s greatest sports people battle it out for glory.

Among those vying to make their mark will be hockey player Fox and cycling star Varnish.

Former Callowbrook First School Fox, 29, is first into the fray as Team GB open their pool group against Argentina on Monday (7pm start) at the Riverbank Stadium and he will be backed by a large contingent of friends and family from the town.

Mother Carolyn Fox, who together with Dan’s father, Richard, live in Marlbrook, said: “Myself and my husband are watching all the games but we’ve got all the family — and I mean all the family — cousins, grandparents and everybody else going to watch the first game.

“It’s going to be incredibly exciting, an Olympics is special but to be part of the squad at a home Games, well there will be nothing like it.

“I think the part I am most looking forward to is when the National Anthem plays and the team walks out, I think there will be a lump in my throat.”

The men’s team are hotly-tipped to win a medal as they enter the tournament ranked fourth in the world but first they must negotiate South Africa, Pakistan, Australia and Spain in the group stage, before progressing to the knockout rounds.

Meanwhile, Varnish begins her quest for glory on Thursday, August 2 at the new London velodrome. Her and British cycling legend Victoria Pendleton face stiff competition from the Chinese, world record holders Germany and the hotly-tipped Australian pair.

However, Jess’ dad, Jim, has backed his daughter to shine.

He said: “We are really rather emotional about it to be honest. We’re going to put a big flag outside the house, which is not something we would do.

“We’ve managed to get tickets for all the family and we’ll be going down there to cheer her on.

“I’m confident Jess is going to rip the place apart.”