First London 2012 Olympic Torchbearer speaks of "very, very big honour"
Wednesday, 09 May 2012
May 9 - Greece's British-born swimming world champion Spyros Gianniotis, who will become the first Olympic Torchbearer of London 2012, has described the opportunity presented to him as a "very, very big honour".
The swimmer, the world 10 kilometres champion, was born in Liverpool but his mother, also a swimmer, then moved to Corfu.
The 32-year-old was here today, where tomorrow the Olympic Torch will be lit using the sun's rays, for a rehearsal.
Olympia was the site of the ancient Olympics which were contested by the then warring Greek City states, who would lay down their arms to take part in the sporting extravaganza.
The Games were revived 116-years-ago by Baron Pierre de Coubertin, and the first modern Olympics took place in Athens that year.
Hundreds of tourists and media gathered to watch the proceedings, and afterwards Gianniotis took a moment to speak to a few journalists.
"Tomorrow is a really important day and for my whole career," he said.
"It is my last Olympics, it is something unique for me."
Responding to a question from insidethegames, he added: "It is a very, very big honour.
"For a Greek it is very important, with the history [of the Games]."
Gianniotis has competed at three Olympics representing Greece, and will be a strong contender for a medal at this summer's Games in London after his successful World Championships last year in Shanghai, where he claimed gold.
He will carry the Torch past the memorial to De Coubertin, paying homage to the Frenchman, before passing the Torch to Alexander Loukos, a 19-year-old British boxer whose father moved from Greece to the United Kingdom.
Loukos was also one of 30 children who went with London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe to Singapore in 2005 for the final presentation ahead of the vote for the host of the 2012 Games.
He will become the first Britain to carry the Torch as it begins its 3,000 kilometres journey through Greece, passing through 34 cities, and being held by 500 people.
On Friday (May 11), the Torch will be transferred by boat to the island of Crete, before moving onto Piraeus, Thessalonica, Xanthi and Larissa on its way to Athens on May 16.
On May 17 it will arrive in the Panathenaic Stadium for the handover ceremony, from which London 2012 will fly it to Land's End in Britain for the start of the Torch Relay around the Olympic and Paralympic host nation.
Once in Britain it will travel 8,000 miles over 70 days on its way to the Olympic Stadium for the Opening Ceremony of the Games on July 27.
The Greek relay will showcase the beauty and heritage of Greece at a time when the country is in turmoil amid inconclusive elections last weekend.
Rival parties are struggling to reach a deal to form a coalition, with the second biggest party, Syriza, opposing the austerity that Greece has been carrying out to help restore faith in its public finances.
Amid the chaos, the prospect of Greece leaving the Euro has increased, and so the Torch Relay's start tomorrow will be welcome relief to the troubled nation.
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