Ben Ainslie to be first London 2012 Torchbearer on British soil
Friday, 11 May 2012
May 11 - Triple Olympic gold medal winning sailor Ben Ainslie will be the first Torchbearer on the British leg of the Olympic Torch Relay when it touches down at Land's End in just over a week.
Ainslie (pictured above), one of Britain's most successful Olympians, will get the 70 day, 8,000 mile relay started at 7.08am GMT on May 19, following the handover of the Torch to London 2012 at a ceremony in Athens' Panathenaic Stadium two days previously.
The 35-year-old grew up in Cornwall, and will also be competing not far from there this summer at Weymouth and Portland, hoping to pick up a fourth successive Olympic gold.
The Torch was lit today at a ceremony here at the Temple of Hera, with the first two Torchbearers being Greece's 10 kilometre open water world champion swimmer Spyros Gianniotis (pictured below) – who was born in Liverpool – and Briton Alexander Loukos, a keen boxer of Greek descent.
The Torch is now making its journey around Greece before flying to the United Kingdom.
"I am extremely honoured to be the first Torchbearer [in Britain] at the start the 70-day Olympic Torch Relay," Ainslie said.
"It will be an amazing experience to be able to carry the Olympic Flame in the area that I grew up in.
"I also want to congratulate the thousands of other inspirational people who will carry the Torch this summer and bring the excitement of the Games to streets throughout the UK."
Ainslie will become the first of 8,000 Torchbearers on the Torch's voyage around the UK and Ireland.
London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe said: "Ben is the perfect person to start the Relay in Land's End as he grew up in the area and is an inspirational sportsman who has worked hard to achieve his goals.
"He will kick off what will be an amazing celebration of people and places from all over the UK in the run up to the Olympics Games this summer."
Ainslie (pictured above) will then pass the Torch to 18-year-old Anastassia Swallow, who has been nominated through Coca-Cola's campaign.
Swallow is a member of the British junior surf team and has represented Britain four times in the sport, as well as being the youngest sports ambassador for Cornwall.
Also carrying the Torch in Land's End are 76-year-old Eric Smith, 16-year-old Victoria Smith and 59-year-old Stephen Brady – nominated through London 2012, Lloyds TSB and Samsung, presenting partners of the Torch Relay.
May 2012: Philip Barker - Olympic Flame lighting brings back memories for Coe of his youth
May 2012: London 2012 Olympic Torch is lit as countdown to the Games begins
May 2012: First London 2012 Olympic Torchbearer speaks of "very, very big honour"
May 2012: Sir Chris Hoy helps Lloyds TSB Torchbearers prepare to carry Olympic Flame
May 2012: The Olympic Flame - an enduring symbol of the Games that burns forever