London 2012 Olympics - Ben Ainslie starts torch relay
by UK Telegraph on 19 May 2012
London 2012 Olympic Games - Triple Olympic gold medallist Ben Ainslie said waiting to start the torch relay at Land's End was 'one of the more nervous moments in my life'.
Showman: Ben Ainslie played with the crowd - London 2012 Olympic Games AP Associated Press http://www.ap.org/
The U.K. Telegraph reported
'Ainslie, who said the torch leg was so special it ranked alongside winning one of his Olympic gold medal: said 'It was one of those moments where I was in a bit of shock really At least I didn't trip over'.
Land's End was crowded with thousands of flag waving spectators, flag-adorned dogs, small children with handmade torches and a buzz rarely seen at 6am.
London 2012 chief executive Paul Deighton exclaimed elatedly when Ainslie lit the torch successfully: 'There you go, no problem'.
Ainslie, who has just won his sixth Finn world championships and will start favourite to win a fourth Olympic gold medal, said he was confident about his Olympic preparations.
'Medal race day August 5 is a big day for me,' Ainslie, 35, said.
'I have got to get back down to earth and concentrate on my preparations. I am quietly confident, it is still a long way to go, but I have to keep focused'
Ainslie was the first of 139 torchbearers on day one of the 70-day 8,000 mile journey of the torch relay.
He walked his 300m leg, waving to the crowd, lined 100-deep and allowing fans to touch the torch before passing the flame to local surfer Tassy Swallow.
'I didn't have anything scripted, I didn't know whether – would run, sprint, walk or crawl, everyone was so excited.
'But the torch was quite heavy. Initially when the gas canister (in the torch) was full up it was a bit hairy, it nearly singed my eyebrows. It was pumping out a big flame because there was a decent breeze. 'I didn't want to rush it, I wanted everyone to be part of it,' Ainslie said. Original article from The Telegraph
Here is a blow by blow report which seems more like a Royal Wedding
'There is no doubt now: the Olympics have truly arrived in Britain. The arrival of the Olympic torch on British soil on Friday night and the start of the relay on Saturday has made the whole event seem that much more real. Maybe not so much for the athletes, who are mainly overseas or locked down in training camps, but for the spectators it’s the moment when they can really start to appreciate the enormity and significance of this crazy, chaotic, wonderful festival of sport hurtling towards us.
'Our decorated Olympian Sir Steve Redgrave believes this is the start of the real Olympic countdown.
'A helicopter is delivering the flame to Land's End. It will be handed over to London 2012 officials who will then light the torch and hand it to today's first torchbearer, three-time Olympic gold medallist and Telegraph Sport columnist Ben Ainslie.
'An update from our Olympics Editor Jacquelin Magnay who is at Land's End
'Paul Deighton says people are lined ten deep on the route into Lands End. 'This confirms the optimism I have always had. Response from localcommunities and the inspirational stories behind the torchbearer have been fantastic. The local pub had a 'torch-tastic' night last night'
'Ainslie seems intensely relaxed ahead of his big moment. A bit like a groom preparing to wed his third wife.
'Ainslie, torchbearer 001, is posing for a few pictures before the lantern is used to light his torch.
'It's lit! Ainslie is just so damn good at everything, isn't he?
'Ainslie is off! Still a slow walk, with much waving, at the moment, but I trust he'll break into a jog shortly.
'Richard Full, who handed over the torch to Ainslie: I was shaking a bit. It was a real honour to hand it over.
'There's a fair amount of wind but that flame is still burning brightly. Organisers are confident it will stay alight in winds of 35mph and even gusts of up to 50mph. Tests have shown it to handle 50mm an hour of rain or snow and temperatures from -5C and up to 40C.
'Ainslie is playing up to the crowd, letting them all touch the torch. Showman. Oh, now he's broken into a jog in what is a more familliar torch relay pace.
'Ainslie has handed the flame over to the second torchbearer, Tassy Swallow, a local surf champion who yearns for the sport to be adopted by the IOC for future Games....'
And on it goes...
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