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Olympic Torch Lands in the UK

The Olympic torch arrived in the UK on Friday via British Airways Firefly Flight 2012 from Athens. The flame was flown from the birthplace of the Games in Athens, Greece and arrived at the Culdrose naval air station, along with Games chairman Lord Coe (aka Seb Coe), football star David Beckham and Princess Anne. Before the events begin on July 27, the flame will go on a 70-day relay around Britain, which started on Saturday. Triple Olympic gold medalist sailor Ben Ainslie is carrying it on the first leg of the relay from Land’s End.

The flame was handed over on Thursday after being lit at the home of the ancient Games in Olympia by the sun’s rays a week before. A ceremony for the handing over of the flame was held in the Athens marble stadium that hosted the first modern 1896 Games. It was presented to former Olympian Princess Anne by Spyros Capralos, the president of the Hellenic Olympic Committee. Upon its arrival in the UK, Princess Anne carried it in a special lantern down the steps of the British Airways plane. As she handed it to a special security team, who will guard it, she said that it’s only when the torch comes into their possession that it’s realised. Soon after, Beckham lit the torch and ignited a cauldron with the Olympic flame.

Lord Coe is confident the torch relay will light the fire for anyone still unsure about the Games. It has a big impact. At a test event with a cardboard torch being carried from Leicester to Peterborough, he saw the spectators were three and four deep on the pavement. He gets letters every week from people telling him of things they will do to mark the fact the torch is passing through. There’s an emotional connection with the torch that he’s not sure all relays have, he added.

Welcoming the Olympic torch, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said this was a fantastic moment for the country, especially when there’s so much concern and anxiety over the economy and other issues. It’s great to be uplifted by this whole experience and be able to showcase the nation to the world as an openhearted, positive, generous and dynamic country. This is a wonderful chance for Britain as a whole, he added.

London Mayor Boris Johnson called the arrival of the Olympic flame a big accelerator for the heartbeat. They have 70 days to go. This is the final furlong for people in his position, and that’s when the horses start to change places. This is going to make the difference between a good and great Games.

The torch will be carried by an average of 115 torchbearers a day and pass through a total of 84 villages, towns and cities across Wales until it arrives at the opening ceremony in Stratford. It will stop at Cardiff, Swansea, Aberystwyth and Bangor overnight before going to Chester on May 29. It will then visit Wrexham and Welshpool in Wales the following day. Some of the relays highlights will include Mount Snowdon, a ride on the train at Mumbles, climbing the cliff at Aberystwyth and taking a steam train between Blaenau Ffestiniog and Porthmadog. On the final day of the relay in Wales, it will be carried across the Pontycysyllte Aqueduct on a hand-drawn boat.

 

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