London ’12 Olympic
lit at Hera’s Temple
THE flame which will burn during the
London Olympic Games was lit at the site where the
ancient Olympics were born, marking the beginning of
the Olympic Torch Relay which will end July 27 at
the opening ceremonies.
In front of the 2,600-year-old
Temple of Hera in Olympia, Greece, actress Ino
Menegaki, dressed as a priestess, invoked Apollo and
lit a fire, and the Olympic torch, using a mirror to
concentrate the rays of the sun.
The triangular torch used in the
relay is designed to emphasize the fact that London
has hosted the Olympic Games on three occasions –
this year, as well as 1908 and 1948.
Given the brilliantly sunny skies,
there was no need to use the auxiliary flame which
had been used during rehearsals.
After the ceremony and a carefully
choreographed performance, the priestess presented
the torch to the first bearer, Greek swimmer and
Olympic silver medalist Spyros Gianniotis.
Gianniotis, 32 years of age, born in
Liverpool to a Greek father and British mother, is
the first of 490 athletes who will carry the torch
over 2,896 kilometers inside Greece before handing
it over, in Athens on May 27, to organizers of the
Gianniotis passed the torch to 19-year-old
Alex Loukos, also born to a Greek father and British
mother and raised in Newham, East London, close to
the Olympic Park.
"It is an incredible honor to be an
Olympic torch bearer… especially carrying the flame
in Olympia, representing the city of London," Loukos
said. "I have grown up with London 2012, since I
helped with the Singapore bid when I was 12 years
old. I have witnessed the regeneration of my
neighborhood in the east of London," he added.
Two veteran athletes will complete
the final stretch of the relay within Greece: weight
lifter and three-time Olympic gold medalist Pyrros
Dimas and the former champion, Chinese gymnast Li
From Greece, the flame will travel
through Britain on a 70-day relay, covering some
12,874 kilometers (8,000 miles). As opposed to
previous occasions when the torch was carried around
the world, this year’s Olympic torch will only leave
Britain once, to travel to Ireland on June 6. (Cubadebate:
with information from AP)