Queen salutes 'dedicated' athletes

The Queen has described how thousands of competitors have completed years of "dedication, hard work and personal sacrifice" in the run-up to London 2012.

With just days to go to the start of the Olympics, the Queen sent out her warm wishes to the athletes making their final preparations ahead of the global event.

She spoke at a Buckingham Palace reception to welcome members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and was presented with a set of medals - gold, silver and bronze - by the organisation's president Jacques Rogge.

The Olympic Games will be officially launched by the Queen on Friday and a spectacular £27 million opening ceremony created by Hollywood director Danny Boyle will be staged. Around 17,000 athletes and officials will be involved in the 17-day long Games which amount to 26 world championships.

The Queen said: "In the coming days over 10,000 athletes from more than 200 nations will be undertaking their final preparations following years of dedication, hard work and personal sacrifice. We send our warm wishes to them all for a rewarding and enjoyable Games."

She added: "Hosting the London 2012 Games has provided inspiration to our children and communities, whether by motivating them to take up physical activity or encouraging them to demonstrate the Olympic values of excellence, respect and friendship in their daily lives, places of learning and local communities.

"Nowhere has this been more evident than in the warm welcome given to the Olympic Torchbearers as the Olympic Flame has travelled the length and breadth of the United Kingdom."

Many of Europe's royal families have roles within the IOC so the event, staged in the palace's ballroom, was also a gathering of members of foreign monarchies including Denmark's Crown Prince Frederik, the Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg, Holland's Prince of Orange, and Charlene, Princess of Monaco with her husband Prince Albert II of Monaco.

Also present were the Duke of York and the Princess Royal, president of the British Olympic Association and a member of the International Olympic Committee since 1988.

Also amongst the guests was pole vaulting legend Sergei Bubka who dominated his sport for more than 10 years winning six consecutive IAAF World Championships from 1983 to 1997 and still holds the world record. The former athlete is president of the Ukrainian National Olympic Committee and an IOC member.