By David Gold

Olympic Torch_being_lit_in_OlympiaMarch 26 - The Hellenic Olympic Committee (HOC) have announced details of the Greek leg of the London 2012 Torch Relay, running from May 10 to 17, with Greece's British-born 10 kilometre swimming world champion Spyros Gianniotis set to be the first Torchbearer.

On May 10 a ceremony will be held at the Temple of Hera in Ancient Olympia, where the torch will be lit using the sun's rays at 7pm.

It will then take a weeklong tour across Greece to Athens and the Panathenaic Stadium, site of the first Modern Olympics in 1896, where the Flame will be given to the London 2012 delegation to fly to a military base in Cornwall.

The announcement was made at an event attended by Spyros Capralos, the President of the HOC, who confirmed that unlike previous Torch Relays, the hard up Greek Government would not contribute towards the costs: "The Torch Relay this year, despite the extremely difficult economic conditions experienced by our country, includes several innovations.

"You will of course wonder how it is possible, in times of crisis and spending cuts, to prepare a Torch Relay that travels across the biggest part of the country, and, of course, entails a significant cost.

"The answer is simple, from the first time, our efforts were focused on how not to burden the Greek state.

"The costs of travel of the Flame came from donations and offers of local municipalities and individuals, who contributed greatly to making this dream trip."

Spyros Gianniotis_26-03-121
Gianniotis (pictured), 32, was born in Liverpool, and won the world 10km open water crown last year.

Spyros' mother, Brenda Gianniotis, formerly Sweeney, grew up in Anfield and went to Bankfield school in West Derby.

But after ending her own swimming career Brenda settled in Corfu after marrying a Greek.

The Greek swimmer has declared already that "swimming in London will be like swimming at home".

He is expected to be a major contender for a medal at this summer's  Olympics, which will be his fourth Games.

The last Torchbearer on the Greek leg is yet to be decided for the 3,000 kilometres trip, which will see the torch pass through 34 cities and be held by 500 people.

The Relay aims to showcase the beauty of Greece to the world, and could provide a boost at a time when the country's economic problems are so profound.

Earlier this month the eurozone bailed out Greece for the second time in an attempt to avert the sovereign debt crisis afflicting the continent spiralling out of control.

They are in their fifth year of recession and have already lost the right to host the 2013 Mediterranean Games due their economic plight.

The event's choreographer, Artemis Ignatiou, said that the lighting was particularly important "at a time when our national pride has been hurt".

"The lighting of the Olympic Flame can be a positive promotion of Greece can make us feel proud again," she said.

The Torch will be transferred by boat after the first day of the relay, moving to the island of Crete, before going to Piraeus, Thessalonica, Xanthi and Larissa among a host of other towns on its way to Athens.

The Torch reaches Athens on May 16, before arriving at the Panathenaic Stadium on May 17.

Once it is in Britain, the Torch will take an 8,000 mile, 70 day journey around the country on its way to the Olympic Stadium for the Opening Ceremony of London 2012 on July 27.

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