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London 2012: Torch's Arrival In UK Could Ignite Olympic Excitement, Says Lord Coe

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OLYMPIC TORCH
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The arrival of the Olympic Flame on British soil could be the trigger for the greatest buzz yet about the London 2012 Games, Lord Coe hopes.

Lord Coe, the chairman of the Games, is in Greece, at the Panathenaic Stadium, Athens, for the official handover of the flame.

From there, the flame will come to Land's End, where the first leg of a 70-day relay around the UK leading up to the Games will go underway.

The Olympic Flame has already been taken on a relay around the Greek mainland and islands since the Olympic Flame was lit in Ancient Olympia last week.

It has visited Crete, Piraeus, Thessalonica, Xanthi and Larissa, among other places.

Olympic sailing champion Ben Ainslie has been selected as the first of thousands of torchbearers to carry the flame across the UK.

The 70-day relay around Britain starts at Land's End. The national relay will see 8,000 torchbearers carrying it to the lighting of the cauldron at the opening ceremony at the Olympic Stadium in Stratford, east London.

The British torch relay has deliberately been set up to shine a spotlight on unsung heroes involved in sport and community work, the younger generation and to move through communities across Britain.

Lord Coe carried the torch in 2004 and also for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics which involved getting on a bus with other torchbearers at 4am in the cold.

The torchbearers have been taking it to the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens, where the first modern Olympics were held in 1896 and the official handover to London 2012 takes place.

On its eighth and final day, the Greek leg of the 2012 relay carries the flame to the Acropolis, the Acropolis Museum, the centre of Athens, Zappeio and to the handover ceremony at the Panathenaic Stadium.

"The stories on that bus that day were, for me, in a way far more exciting than running with the torch," he recalled.

"I just remember getting on that bus listening to those stories of people who had really made big changes to their lives."

Chinese gymnast Li Ning, who lit the cauldron at the opening ceremony for the 2008 Beijing Games, and Greek weightlifter Pyrros Dimas, will be the last torchbearers in Greece.

There is huge symbolism, like so much of the planning behind the Olympic ceremonies, behind their choice to bring the flame to the handover ceremony.

The Hellenic Olympic Committee said: "The last torchbearers will be this time two in number and their presence will be symbolically linking the past Olympic Games in Beijing, with Greece, the birthplace of the institution, and the upcoming Games in London."

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