Olympic flame arrives in 2012 host city London

April 6th, 2008 - 2:30 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Gordon Brown
(Torch Relay Update)
London, April 6 (Xinhua) The Olympic flame for the Beijing Games has landed in London, the host of the 2012 Olympics, where it is expected to witness the largest city relay outside the Chinese mainland. The Olympic flame, which arrived here Saturday, will be carried through London as part of the global Olympic flame journey. Large crowds are expected to cheer for the 80 torchbearers, including Paralympics, Olympic athletes and celebrities as they carry the torch through 10 London boroughs from Wembley to Greenwich.

As the host of the 2012 Olympics, the London relay is designed to cover the longest route ahead of the Aug 8-24 Games in Beijing.

The first torchbearer is Steve Redgrave, quintuple Olympic gold medallist rower from Marlow Bottom. After striking gold in Sydney, Redgrave became the only English athlete ever to have won gold medals in five consecutive Olympic Games.

His first Olympic gold came in the coxed fours in Los Angeles in 1984, followed by gold with Andy Holmes in the coxless pairs at Seoul in 1988, gold with Matthew Pinsent in the coxless pairs at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, and finally the Atlanta Olympics in 1996.

In Downing Street, Prime Minister Gordon Brown will meet a special torchbearer Ali Jawad, a disabled athlete on wheelchair, who is on the brink of qualification for the Beijing Paralympics.

The last torchbearer is Dame Kelly Holmes, a retired English middle-distance athlete. She won gold medals in the 800 metres and 1500m at the 2004 Summer Games.

Chinese-English Emily Giles will also run in the relay. “Being selected to help carry the Olympic torch for the Beijing Games would mean so much for me. With roots in China on my mother’s side and England on my father’s, I feel I can symbolise the links between these games and the next,” said Giles after being honoured to carry the flame.

Chinese ambassador to Britain Fu Ying will be among the torchbearers. The Princess Royal and Mayor of London Ken Livingstone are going to attend the celebration ceremony.

The route is to pass through London’s cross-sectional sites including Wembley Stadium, Notting Hill Gate, Hyde Park Place, Marble Arch, Oxford Circus, British Museum, Chinatown Arch, Trafalgar Square, Downing Street, Bridge Street, Waterloo Bridge, St Paul’s Cathedral and Greenwich.

The torch is set to travel to 21 cities on five continents outside the Chinese mainland before arriving in Beijing for the start of 2008 Games Aug 8.

Earlier, each of the 80 torchbearers ran about 250 meters in St. Petersburg, the third stop, before leaving for London. The relay culminated with a grand ceremony the Palace Square.

Galina Zybina, Russia’s shot put gold medallist at the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, Finland, was the first person to bear the torch from the Victory Square. After 250 meters, she handed the flame over to Leonid Tyagachyov, president of the Russian Olympic Committee, who ran another 250 meters.

Tens of thousands of people went to track down the relay route. The whole city was dipped in glamour and happiness.

“It’s not such a thing you can encounter everyday, so I decided to come here to witness with my own eyes instead of lying on bed watching from TV,” Stas Komichenko, 18, a junior student in the St.Petersburg State Transportation University, said.

“China is a very good friend of Russia. I wish the Beijing Olympic Games a success,” he said.

Three ceremonies were held for the torch relay: at the Victory Square at the start of the relay, at the Parliament Square for a break in the middle of the relay and at the Palace Square at its conclusion.

A total of 80 Russian athletes, artists and media people, along with a diplomat from the Chinese embassy in Russia and a minority Chinese from China’s Yunnan province, carried the Olympic torch through the city.

The torch had earlier passed through Almaty, Kazakhstan, Turkey’s Istanbul.

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