Tag Archives: torch

Tommy Godwin, double Olympic cycling medallist passes away aged 91

Cycling in mourning as double Olympic medallist Godwin passes away aged 91

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UPDATED:

20:25 GMT, 3 November 2012

Double Olympic medallist Tommy Godwin has died aged 91, British Cycling has announced.

Godwin, who was heavily involved in the sport throughout his life, died at the Marie Curie Hospice in Solihull.

He won two bronze medals at the 1948 Olympics in London, in the team pursuit and kilometre time trial, held at Herne Hill.

Double Olympic medallist: Tommy Godwin, pictured in April at the Olympic Stadium, passed away aged 91

Double Olympic medallist: Tommy Godwin, pictured in April at the Olympic Stadium, passed away aged 91

When the Games returned to the capital earlier this year, Godwin carried the Olympic torch through Solihull and was a keen supporter of Team GB at the velodrome in the Olympic Park.

After his competitive career came to an end, Godwin managed the British cycling squad at the 1964 Games in Tokyo, was president of the British Cycling Federation, ran the first British training camp in Majorca, and founded the Birmingham RCC.

Godwin became Britain's first paid national coach in 1964 and trained a generation of British track riders, including Graham Webb, who beat the British hour record and won the world road race championship, and Mick Bennett, who won bronze medals at the 1972 and 1976 Olympics.

Reaction was quick to come in the cycling world.

Sir Chris Hoy said on his Twitter account: 'So sad to hear cycling legend and Olympic medallist from 1948, the great Tommy Godwin, has passed away.'

His message was re-tweeted by Joanna Rowsell, Olympic and world team pursuit champion.

British Cycling president Brian Cookson paid tribute, saying: 'Tommy Godwin represented all that is great about our sport – a true gentleman who achieved great things as a competitor, a coach and an administrator.

'Our sport is privileged to have been associated with him.'

London 2012 Olympics: Cauldron moved but not within view of outside

Ready to shine! Olympic Cauldron moved and given pride of place inside the stadium

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UPDATED:

11:26 GMT, 30 July 2012

Olympics 2012

The Olympic Cauldron has been moved into place at the end of the London 2012 stadium but it will not be visible to people outside.

Organisers say the location is an echo of the position of the cauldron at the 1948 London Games and that it will be visible via big screens at the top of the stadium.

The cauldron, made up of 204 steel
pipes and copper petals inscribed with the competing nations' names, was
erected in the centre of the stadium during the opening ceremony on
Friday night.

It has now been moved to the south end
of the stadium in the place of the giant bell that was rung by Bradley
Wiggins during the ceremony.

Flaming marvellous: The Olympic Cauldron has been moved ready for the track and field

Flaming marvellous: The Olympic Cauldron has been moved ready for the track and field

Flaming marvellous: The Olympic Cauldron has been moved ready for the track and field

The moving process took 80 hours, during which time the Olympic Flame was transferred from a miners' lamp by Austin Playfoot, one of the torchbearers at the 1948 Games, who then lit the cauldron using a London 2012 torch.

Playfoot said: 'It was an honour to be
asked to perform this important task of relighting the Cauldron in its
resting position. When I ran with the Olympic Flame in Guildford I never
thought I would get this close to the Cauldron, it brought me to tears
when it lit up.

'It will be an incredible inspiration to the competing athletes here at the heart of the Olympic Park in the stadium.'

Honour: The flame was lit by Austin Playfoot, one of the torchbearers at the 1948 Games

Honour: The flame was lit by Austin Playfoot, one of the torchbearers at the 1948 Games

Honour: The flame was lit by Austin Playfoot, one of the torchbearers at the 1948 Games

Thomas Heatherwick, the cauldron designer, said: 'There is the precedent of the 1948 Games of the cauldron set within the stadium, to one side with the spectators, and with the technology we now have that didn't exist in 1948 it can be shared with everyone in the Olympic Park with screens.

'We felt that sharing it with the screens reinforced the intimacy within it, if it had been a huge beacon lifted up in the air it would have had to be bigger, and would have somehow not met the brief that we discussed with Danny Boyle of making something that was rooted in where the people are.'

OLYMPICS: Sochi organisers plan to take torch to space before 2014 Games

Beyond the final frontier… Sochi organisers want to take torch to space before 2014 Games

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UPDATED:

14:59 GMT, 26 July 2012

Sochi 2014 organising committee president Dmitry Chernyshenko has confirmed ambitious plans to take the Olympic torch into space for the first time.

Chernyshenko, who carried the torch on a leg through London on Thursday promised the torch route ahead of the next Winter Olympics would be the longest in history.

From Russia with love: Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak and Sochi CEO Dmitry Chernyshenko answer questions on Thursday

From Russia with love: Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak and Sochi CEO Dmitry Chernyshenko answer questions on Thursday

Speaking at the opening of Sochi Park in Kensington, which will promote the Sochi experience to London visitors, Chernyshenko said: 'We are planning to take the torch into space – and we will.'

Other highlights of the expected 50,000km route, which will visit all 83 Russian districts and span nine zones, will be the peak of Europe's highest mountain Mount Elbrus, and the bottom of the world's deepest lake, Lake Baikal.

London 1948 Olympics: Picture special

PICTURE SPECIAL: Fascinating images from 1948… when London last hosted the Olympic Games

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UPDATED:

16:38 GMT, 18 July 2012

With the London Olympics on the horizon, Sportsmail's thoughts have turned back to the last time the city hosted the Games, in 1948.

Here, we delve into the history books to bring you photographs from the showpiece event 64 years ago.

The Olympic torch is presented at the 1948 Summer Olympic Games at Wembley Stadium in London

The Olympic torch is presented at the 1948 Summer Olympic Games at Wembley Stadium in London

Veteran runner H J Bignall (right) hands over the Olympic torch to Fred Prevett at Redhill, Surrey

Veteran runner H J Bignall (right) hands over the Olympic torch to Fred Prevett at Redhill, Surrey

AA patrols with signs at Olympic Way, the new road which was constructed to the Wembley Stadium

AA patrols with signs at Olympic Way, the new road which was constructed to the Wembley Stadium

The Opening Ceremony for the 1948 Olympics at Wembley Stadium

The Opening Ceremony for the 1948 Olympics at Wembley Stadium

A torch bearer lights the Olympic flame at Wembley Stadium during the opening ceremony of the 1948 Games

A torch bearer lights the Olympic flame at Wembley Stadium during the opening ceremony of the 1948 Games

80,000 people watched the King open the 14th Olympic Games as temperatures reached 33C

80,000 people watched the King open the 14th Olympic Games as temperatures reached 33C

The Great Britain men's gymnastics team at Empress Hall, Earl's Court, during the Olympic Games in London

The Great Britain men's gymnastics team at Empress Hall, Earl's Court, during the Olympic Games in London

Cyclists at the mass start of one of the men's road races at Smith's Lawn, Windsor Great Park

Cyclists at the mass start of one of the men's road races at Smith's Lawn, Windsor Great Park

Fritz Hegner of Switzerland on the shooting range at Bisley, Surrey, during the modern pentathlon event

Fritz Hegner of Switzerland on the shooting range at Bisley, Surrey, during the modern pentathlon event

Cyclist Reg Harris of Great Britain wins heat eight of round two in the men's sprint at Herne Hill Velodrome

Cyclist Reg Harris of Great Britain wins heat eight of round two in the men's sprint at Herne Hill Velodrome

McDonald Bailey (centre) of Great Britain wins heat six of the men's 100m event at Wembley Stadium

McDonald Bailey (centre) of Great Britain wins heat six of the men's 100m event at Wembley Stadium

The eight crew who represented Argentina in the Olympic games prepare to take to the river in Kingston

The eight crew who represented Argentina in the Olympic games prepare to take to the river in Kingston

Members of the British gymnastics team practising on the high bar in Hyde Park

Members of the British gymnastics team practising on the high bar in Hyde Park

The floating boxing ring was installed at the Empire Pool at Wembley

The floating boxing ring was installed at the Empire Pool at Wembley

The weightlifting competition was held in Empres Hall at Earls Court, which will also be used this year

The weightlifting competition was held in Empres Hall at Earls Court, which will also be used this year

ZA Olsen of the USA takes a jump during the springboard diving event in the Wembley Pool

ZA Olsen of the USA takes a jump during the springboard diving event in the Wembley Pool

A Curtis of the USA, the winner, is leading on the last lap of the final of the women's 400m freestyle

A Curtis of the USA, the winner, is leading on the last lap of the final of the women's 400m freestyle

Andre Marie of France wins the 110m hurdles trial from O.H Bernard of Switzerland and S.F. Foster of Jamaica

Andre Marie of France wins the 110m hurdles trial from O.H Bernard of Switzerland and S.F. Foster of Jamaica

Cook of Great Britain (left) during his bout with Mosman of Holland who went on to win

Cook of Great Britain (left) during his bout with Mosman of Holland who went on to win

Crowds watching the 1948 London Olympics in the rain at Wembley Stadium

Crowds watching the 1948 London Olympics in the rain at Wembley Stadium

A Coca-Cola stall at Wembley Stadium during the Olympic Games in London, August 1948

A Coca-Cola stall at Wembley Stadium during the Olympic Games in London, August 1948

Fanny Blankers-Koen (Holland) and Maureen Gardner (Great Britain), first and second on right in the 80m hurdles

Fanny Blankers-Koen of Holland and Britain's Maureen Gardner (first and second on right) in the 80m hurdles

High jump silver medalist Dorothy Tyler (nee Odam) with her sons David (left) and Barry

High jump silver medalist Dorothy Tyler (nee Odam) with her sons David (left) and Barry

The Indian team attacks the Spanish goalmouth during preliminary field hockey matches at Chiswick

The Indian team attacks the Spanish goalmouth during preliminary field hockey matches at Chiswick

The US basketball team hold their captain Jesse Renick aloft after they beat France 65-21 to win the final

The US basketball team hold their captain Jesse Renick aloft after they beat France 65-21 to win the final

Gold winner of the 10,000m Czech Emil Zatopek (centre), with Alain Mimoun (left) and Bertil Albertsson

Gold winner of the 10,000m Czech Emil Zatopek (centre), with Alain Mimoun (left) and Bertil Albertsson

Roger Chesneau leads the competitors in the men's 3000m steeplechase at Wembley Stadium

Roger Chesneau leads the competitors in the men's 3000m steeplechase at Wembley Stadium

The start of the fifth heat of the men's 100m freestyle event at the Empire Pool in Wembley

The start of the fifth heat of the men's 100m freestyle event at the Empire Pool in Wembley

Australian Mervyn Wood wins the single sculls final at Henley on Thames ahead of Eduardo Risso

Australian Mervyn Wood wins the single sculls final at Henley on Thames ahead of Eduardo Risso

One of the workmen with some of the direction signs to be put up at the Olympic Centre in Richmond Park

One of the workmen with some of the direction signs to be put up at the Olympic Centre in Richmond Park

Denmark's Major N Mikkelsen fails to win the jumping test event as his horse, St Hans, demolishes a fence

Denmark's Major N Mikkelsen fails to win the jumping test event as his horse, St Hans, demolishes a fence

London 2012 Olympics: Flame extinguished as torch is carried on white water rafting boat

Olympic flame extinguished as torch is carried on white water rafting boat

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UPDATED:

21:16 GMT, 7 July 2012

With the benefit of hindsight, it's astounding that no one saw this coming. As the Olympic torch splashed through the canoe slalom venue in Hertfordshire today on board a raft as part of its journey around the country, spraying water splashed out the famed Eternal Flame.

Day 50 proved a tricky one for the torch relay, after a crash between two motorcycles earlier forced a delay and celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s turn carrying the flame was marred by pouring rain.

In the first setback for the day, the torch convoy was held up for 20 minutes after two motorbike riders collided near Chelmsford, Essex, at around 7.40am, and had to be rushed to hospital with suspected broken bones.

Despite the bearer's best efforts, the torch could not survive the rapids at the Olympic canoe slalom venue

Ambitious: Despite bearer Zachary Franklin's best efforts, the torch could not survive the rapids at the Olympic canoe slalom venue

As the raft crashes through the rapids, the torch - held aloft by British junior team canoeist Zachary Franklin - can barely be seen through the spray

Rough: As the raft crashes through the rapids, the torch – held aloft by the British junior team canoeist – can barely be seen through the spray

Valiant effort: In a day of mishaps, the torch went out as the British men's canoe team carried it down the rapids

Valiant effort: The eternal flame can be temperamental – going out on just day three of the relay, and again during the canoe course

Ambulances and a fire engine were called, and convoy doctors treated the
male and female riders at the scene before the relay was able to proceed.

Later, the torch arrived at Lee Valley White Water Centre near Waltham
Cross, the canoe slalom venue, where it suffered the further hiccup.

Despite the best efforts of British junior team canoeist Zachary
Franklin, who held the flame aloft as the British men’s rafting team
propelled him through the rapids, water splashing into the boat extinguished the flame.

Take two: The Olympic flame stayed alight on its second attempt down the river

Take two: The Olympic flame stayed alight on its second attempt down the river

Wet: The flame appeared to go briefly while it was being transported on the raft at the Lee Valley White Water Centre

Wet: Water splashing into the boat caused the flame to go out – but a LOCOG spokesman said a master flame was on hand for such incidents

‘It is not uncommon for a flame to go out and this can happen for a number of reasons,’ a LOCOG spokesman said.

‘In this instance it was due to water being splashed into the boat from the slalom course.

‘It was relit from the mother flame, which is kept in a specially
designed miners’ lantern and successfully taken down the course on the
second attempt.’

Rainy: Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver braved the wet weather on his torch run near his family's pub in Essex

Rainy: Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver braved the wet weather on his torch run near his family's pub in Essex

It isn’t the first time the Olympic flame has gone out as it makes its way through the UK.

Back on May 21, just three days into the relay, the flame on a torch
attached to para-badminton star David Follett's wheelchair burned out
while in Devon.

In another early hitch to proceedings, the flame was blown out by a gust
of wind as it was being lit for the first time in Greece. It had to be
relit before being handed to a torchbearer.

Today the relay was travelling from Chelmsford to Cambridge, en route to London for the Olympic opening ceremony.

Jamie Oliver had his own issues during his stint through Newport, the Essex village where he went
to school, braving wet and
wild weather as he ran.

Supporters: Stilt walkers cheer on the Olympic flame as it passes through Chelmsford

Spectators wearing patriotic Union Flag and St George's Cross glasses

Spirited: Spectators on stilts with Union Jack flag glasses, and men with patriotic glasses, enjoy the Olympic torch relay

The 37-year-old health eating champion kept smiling despite the tough going.

Watched by his wife Jools and family, a bedraggled-looking Oliver said: ‘I can't believe how much
it's raining but it's great to be here in my old town and this is a
real privilege.

‘I'll run past my old school and finish at the pub where, to be honest, I'd like to be right now.’

Oliver lives in nearby Clavering with his wife Jules, daughters Poppy,
Daisy and Petal, and son Buddy, while his parents own a pub and
restaurant nearby.

In its final stop for the day at Cambridge, the flame was again due to
take to the water, but this time at a more sedate pace on a punt ride.

Brave face: Jamie Oliver kept smiling through the wet weather - despite confessing that he would rather be in the pub

Brave face: Jamie Oliver kept smiling through the wet weather - despite confessing that he would rather be in the pub

Brave face: Jamie Oliver kept smiling through the wet weather – despite confessing that he would rather be in the pub

Jools with daughter Daisy

A wet looking Jamie Oliver takes the torch

Supportive: Wife Jools Oliver, looking a little worse for wear in the wet weather, and daughter Daisy turned out to watch Jamie as he carried the Olympic torch

Frankie Dettori thrilled to carry Olympic torch at Ascot as part of relay

Proud Dettori thrilled to carry Olympic torch at Ascot as part of relay

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UPDATED:

17:53 GMT, 5 July 2012

Jockey Frankie Dettori will carry the Olympic torch at Ascot Racecourse next week as part of the Olympic Torch relay.

He will be passed the torch on Ascot High Street and carry it on horseback on a lap of the Parade Ring riding on former top-class racehorse Monsignor.

The 41-year-old said: ‘It is an honour and a privilege to be invited to carry the Olympic Flame at a track that holds such happy memories for me.’

Torch bearer: Dettori

Torch-bearer: Dettori

London 2012 Olympics: Ben Ainslie shrugs off form doubts

Ainslie shrugs off 'amusing' form doubts after defeat to Scott at Sail For Gold regatta

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UPDATED:

16:23 GMT, 19 June 2012

Three-time Olympic champion Ben Ainslie has laughed off 'amusing' question marks over his form heading into the London 2012 Games this summer.

Ainslie suffered defeat in the recent Sail For Gold regatta as Giles Scott – who missed out on an Olympic place to Ainslie – beat him in the Finn class earlier this month.

That prompted exaggerated concern about his prospects for this summer's showpiece despite the 35-year-old having won the world championships just two weeks before.

Plain sailing: Ainslie remains a favourite heading into London Olympics

Plain sailing: Ainslie remains a favourite heading into London Olympics

But Ainslie, who suffered from illness and a capsized boat as he lost to Scott in Weymouth, has no concerns about his level of performance.

He said: 'For everyone racing in the Olympics, the Sail For Gold was really a warm-up regatta.

'We had the World Championships two weeks previously and then obviously the Olympics coming up, so to peak for three big events was always going to be tough.

'I wasn't really surprised at the result. It's great for Giles, he sailed really well and it's good for him to prove how good he is. For me personally, in the build-up to the Olympics, it's great to have him as a training partner.

'But the result for me really has no significance at all. It was really just a case of an opportunity to be out there racing on the Olympic courses.'

Best foot forward: Ainslie was one of the lucky few to carry the Olympic torch

Best foot forward: Ainslie was one of the lucky few to carry the Olympic torch

Much was made of the failure to win the Sail For Gold regatta but Ainslie is happy to ignore the furore.

The four-time Olympian, who collected his London 2012 kit in Loughborough today, said: 'It's always quite amusing.

'I mean, two weeks previously I won the World Championships and everybody said it was easy. Then Giles won the Sail For Gold regatta and suddenly, in two weeks, I'm in everyone else's eyes under-performing.

'I think it's just something you have to deal with if you're towards the top of any sport. The pressure for the Olympics will be greater than ever and as I say, that's just something you have to deal with.

'You notice those expectation levels a lot more because we're at home. Previously we've been abroad and you don't quite get the feeling of anticipation and expectation but we are experiencing it now, being at home which is fantastic.

'But at the same time we have to rise to that level of expectation and get a result.'

London 2012 Olympics: Amy Williams leads torch relay on day four

Olympic gold winner Williams leads torch relay on day four through Yeovil

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UPDATED:

10:32 GMT, 22 May 2012

Winter Olympics gold medallist Amy Williams said carrying the Olympic torch was an 'amazing feeling'.

The former skeleton racer took the flame through Yeovil in Somerset at 8am and said it made her 'very proud to be British'.

The 29-year-old received huge cheers from the crowd as she walked past spectators, waving and smiling broadly.

Skeleton crew: Williams leads the relay early on day four in Yeovil

Skeleton crew: Williams leads the relay early on day four in Yeovil

Williams announced her retirement from skeleton earlier this month, bringing an end to her career which famously culminated in a Winter Olympic gold medal in Vancouver in 2010.

She was Great Britain's first individual female gold medallist at a Winter Games in 58 years.

This morning, the athlete, who bowed out of the sport due to injury, tweeted that she had a 'torch bearers meeting' to teach her how to make her torch 'kiss' the next one in order to light it.

After taking part in the relay, she added: 'Amazing feeling, very proud to be British and to have had the opportunity to carry the Olympic torch.'

Communities from Taunton, Glastonbury, Wiltshire, Bath and Bristol will see dozens of unsung and hard-working individuals get their moment in the spotlight.

The torchbearers range in age from children to 91-year-old Doris Whiting.
Mrs Whiting will be one of the oldest of the 8,000 torchbearers who will carry the Olympic flame on the way to the July 27 opening ceremony.

Lining the streets: The crowds flocked to catch a glimpse of the Olympic flame

Lining the streets: The crowds flocked to catch a glimpse of the Olympic flame

Lining the streets: The crowds flocked to catch a glimpse of the Olympic flame

The nonagenarian, from Trowbridge, Wiltshire, will carry the flame through Shepton Mallet.

Her nomination said she received an MBE in 2008 to recognise more than 30 years of community work.

'Doris is one of the few people I know who is instantly recognised by just her first name. Mention the name Doris in Trowbridge and everyone knows who you mean,' her nominator said.

'Not only Doris herself but a great many in Trowbridge too would be delighted if she were to be selected for the honour of carrying the flame. A fitting climax to a long life of ceaseless service to the community.'

Gavin Harvey, 31, from Salisbury, Wiltshire, will carry the torch in Frome, Somerset.

He lost both legs in a bomb blast while serving with the Army in Afghanistan in August 2009.

His wife, who nominated him, said: 'He lost both his legs, shattered his pelvis and suffered multiple internal injuries. After spending 10 and a half weeks in hospital he was finally discharged.'

'Since then he has been an inspiration to all who know him in his determination to live life to the full and still be a very active father to our two very young daughters.'

Strike a light! Sophie Vaughan-Wiiliams and Tonia White took pride in their turn

Strike a light! Sophie Vaughan-Wiiliams and Tonia White took pride in their turn

Strike a light! Sophie Vaughan-Wiiliams and Tonia White took pride in their turn

A former heavy drinker and smoker who saw the error of her ways will carry the torch through Bristol.

Joanne Plumbley, 36, from Tytherington, Gloucestershire, grew up disliking exercise but changed her lifestyle after joining the Territorial Army.

'Joanne grew up hating strenuous activity and was notoriously bad at games and sport,' her nominator said.

'/05/22/article-2148054-13396793000005DC-287_468x313.jpg” width=”468″ height=”313″ alt=”Over land and sea: Judith Gaden took the Olympic flame on a canal boat down the River Tone in Taunton” class=”blkBorder” />

Over land and sea: Judith Gaden took the Olympic flame on a canal boat down the River Tone in Taunton

He said: 'My radio interviews, speeches and pieces in the local newspaper helped to overturn a decision to close my school just weeks before the closure was finalised.

'I have already shown that if you put your mind to things you can achieve your desired goal.'

Organisers will be hoping for a repeat of the scenes on the first three days of the relay when excited people packed the streets of Cornwall and Somerset to catch a glimpse of the torch.

London 2012 Olympics: Ben Ainslie kicks off torch relay

Olympic legend Ainslie kicks off torch relay with flame set for 8,000 miles over 70 days

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UPDATED:

10:56 GMT, 19 May 2012

Three-time Olympic sailing champion Ben Ainslie has kicked off the London 2012 Olympic torch relay from Land's End this morning.

Ainslie, 35, is the first of 8,000 torchbearers who will carry the Olympic Flame 8,000 miles over 70 days to where it will light the cauldron at the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Games.

Ainslie, who also has the honour of being the first athlete to formally be selected for Team GB, is aiming to win his fourth successive gold medal on home waters at the London 2012 competition at Weymouth and Portland.

They're off: Ben Ainslie and lieutenant commander Richie Full, who delivered the Olympic Flame from RNAS Culdrose

They're off: Ben Ainslie and lieutenant commander Richie Full, who delivered the Olympic Flame from RNAS Culdrose

His Olympic dream seems to be on course after he this week became the world Finn champion for the sixth time in Falmouth.

Devon and Cornwall Police said around 3,500 people were at Land's End to see the start of the relay.

Being the first person to run with the London 2012 Olympic torch was almost as special as winning a gold medal, Ainslie said.

Fresh from winning his sixth world title yesterday, Ainslie was up in the early hours to complete the first leg of the relay at Land's End in Cornwall.

Hear the cheers: Crowds gather as torchbearer Nicole Martin takes the flame between the villages of Rosudgeon and Helston

Hear the cheers: Crowds gather as torchbearer Nicole Martin takes the flame between the villages of Rosudgeon and Helston

He said: 'I would say that particular moment ranks right up there with winning a gold medal. It was incredibly special.'

Despite being in great physical form as he prepares to try win to win his fourth successive gold medal, Ainslie decided to walk his relay leg.

Ainslie happily paused and waved so the cheering crowd of all ages could take photographs. Many of whom had risen at 4am to make the trip and waved flags to support the first torchbearers.

Ainslie said: 'I did alright at least I did not trip over. I did not really want to rush it. I wanted to give everyone the chance to touch the torch, it gives everyone around the country to feel part of it.

What a setting: Torchbearer Sarah Blight runs on the beach in front of St. Michael's Mount at Marazion

What a setting: Torchbearer Sarah Blight runs on the beach in front of St. Michael's Mount at Marazion

'It is one of those moments in your life where you are just in shock. It was an amazing moment. I was very proud obviously to help kick start this period in the run-up to the Olympics.

'It was probably one of the more nervous moments in my life but it is so special for everybody to see the Olympic torch.'

It's here: Richie Full delivers the flame

It's here: Richie Full delivers the flame

Nailed on: Sarah Blight shows her true colours

Nailed on: Sarah Blight shows her true colours

A slight wind caught the flame as his torch was lit, beneath the famous Land's End sign.

Ainslie said: 'Initially when the gas was full up there was a bit of breeze so we had to be pretty careful. The atmosphere was great. Everyone was really excited.'

Sir Keith Mills, the London 2012 deputy chairman and a friend of Ainslie's, described the start of a relay as “historic and emotional day” for him that has been nine years in the making.

Sir Keith was a key member of London's winning bid to stage the Games.

He said: 'This has been an amazing journey. For me this is the start of the Games and when the whole country starts to get excited.

Flaming good time: Ben Ainslie

Flaming good time: Ben Ainslie

'You have many milestones in this like winning the bid, the lighting of the flame and its arrival yesterday was a special moment. This is clearly another big moment.'

There are 139 torchbearers carrying the flame a total of 136 miles on the first day of the relay. It started at the Land's End Signpost in Cornwall and ends at the Hoe in Plymouth for the first evening celebration.

Sir Keith, who is a keen sailor and has worked with Ainslie on an America's Cup, said: 'Seeing Ben with the torch was one of the reasons that I wanted to be here.

'He is one of our greatest Olympians and he also happens to be a friend. I have spent a lot of time with him with the America's Cup and the way that he is sailing with such passion, he is in a great position for a fourth gold medal.

Crowd pleaser: Ben Ainslie shows the flame to the people who turned up to cheer the start of the relay

Crowd pleaser: Ben Ainslie shows the flame to the people who turned up to cheer the start of the relay

'I also know that for him, being able to carry the torch on his home soil, is very special for him and his family. I wanted to share in the moment with him.'

Ainslie said he did not know whether he was going to 'run, sprint, walk or crawl' his relay leg but that he made a point of wishing 18-year-old Swallow good luck as he passed the Olympic Flame on to her.

Swallow, who is from St Ives, said she wanted to take it slowly to take it all in but she got 'a bit excited and a little crazy and ran too fast'.

Travelling in style: The flame arrived at Land's End by helicopter

Travelling in style: The flame arrived at Land's End by helicopter

London 2012 wanted the bulk of people taking part in the relay to be unsung heroes who have done things to help their community, individuals involved sport and people from the younger generation.

Swallow, who is hoping that surfing will soon become an Olympic event, said: 'Ben Ainslie is definitely a role model. I would love to be in his position in the future and be a role model to younger people.

'Everyone knows that I have had to work hard to get where I am. I was really surprised by the atmosphere here today. Everyone was cheering and calling my name. It is something – will never forget.'

London 2012 Games: David Beckham to help bring Olympic torch back to Britain

Beckham joins London 2012 team to bring Olympic torch back to Britain

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UPDATED:

06:44 GMT, 16 May 2012

David Beckham will be announced as the surprise star who will join London 2012 officials in bringing then Olympic torch from Greece to Britain.

London 2012 chairman Lord Coe had hoped to include Beckham in this symbolic moment but only did the deal to secure the former England captain at the 11th hour.

Line up: Before his Olympic duties, David Beckham took time out to meet US President Barack Obama

Line up: Before his Olympic duties, David Beckham took time out to meet US President Barack Obama

Lord Coe, the Princess Royal and and Olympics minister Hugh Robertson, head up a delegation which will see the flame 'laid to rest' at the Acropolis and handed over to London at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens on Thursday evening.

The torch will then flown back to Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose in Cornwall on Friday and the Princess Royal is due to walk off the plane carrying the torch watched by millions on TV.

Good times: Beckham has enjoyed a scoring start to the MLS season

Good times: Beckham has enjoyed a scoring start to the MLS season

A 70-day relay, involving 8,000 torchbearers covering 8,000 miles, will then bring the flame to east London's Olympic Stadium and the opening of the Games on July 27.