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Tuesday, 19 June 2012 10:14

Jessica Ennis welcomes the world to London

From June 14, millions of passengers flying into Heathrow can see a giant painting on the flight path featuring British World Champion heptathlete Jessica Ennis alongside the words “Welcome to our turf”’.

The image has been created by British Airways to welcome home Team GB and ParalympicsGB supporters and remind athletes from overseas that only one country has home advantage. It will be visible to passengers in the run up to the Games, including July 16 – the day (1) when most of the competing athletes will arrive into London.

Measuring 53 by 75 meters the image is bigger than 15 tennis courts and 193 London buses within its dimensions, and portrays Olympic hopeful Ennis with the Twitter hashtag #HomeAdvantage to generate buzz and capture excitement.

British Airways estimates that it will fly 50,000 ex-pats back to the UK this summer. The airline has also launched a ‘Flying Britain Home’ campaign offering a quarter of a million pounds worth of flights to Brits that live abroad to fly back for the Games. A further 50 flights are available to Team GB and ParalympicsGB athletes to bring home their friends and family for an extra boost during the Games. The two-week promotion ends tonight, but there is still time to apply at facebook.com/britishairways

A proud Jessica Ennis, said: “I’m thrilled to be the first face that people will see arriving into the UK for the London 2012 Games. I hope it brings excitement to homecoming Brits, and reminds international athletes that we’re ready and prepared! We have the most dedicated fans in the world, who will get behind us every step of the way to give us a home advantage.”

The image is located in Thornbury Playing Fields in Hounslow, about three miles from Heathrow. Over 600 litres of red, white and blue weatherproof paint was used, taking two days for painters to complete the artwork on grass.

Former American Olympic rower Kate Johnson, said: “As an athlete at the Athens Games in 2004, one of my strongest memories was seeing the city for the first time as we flew in, because that’s when the reality kicked in. It’s an exciting and anxious moment for athletes, and I expect they will be amused and a perhaps a little unsettled to see such a bold message as they arrive to the UK.”

As official airline partner of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the airline has supported over 1,500 UK Sport athletes and their families from 28 Olympic and 20 Paralympic sports with flights to train and compete abroad. The airline is also the partner of the British Olympic Association, British Paralympic Association, UK Athletics, British Swimming, Disability Swimming, Diving, Synchro and Water Polo teams.

British Airways sponsorship manager, Luisa Fernandez, said: “Whether you’re a Brit coming home, or an athlete arriving in for the London 2012 Games, this celebratory message reminds us all of the power of the home crowd and how important it is to get behind Team GB and ParalympicsGB.”

During the Games, the airline will host ‘Park Live presented by British Airways’ at the Olympic Park for fans to come together and get behind our athletes. Already dubbed the ‘Hoy Hill’ of the Games, it offers a place for fans to go before or after watching an event, or as a destination in itself. The parkland area can accommodate up to 10,000 visitors at any given time and offers giant screens showing the live action, as well as a BA Stage for interviews with athletes.

To follow or join the campaign, use #HomeAdvantage on Twitter.

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