Sports News / London Olympics 2012 > Sailor Ben Ainslie was the first torchbearer as the Olympic flame began its 70-day journey around Britain and Ireland on Saturday ahead of the 2012 London Games.
The flame arrived in Britain from Greece on Friday and was flown to Land’s End, the southwesterly tip of England, on Saturday by a Royal Navy helicopter before it was used to light the torch for the start of the 8,000-mile (12,875-kilometre) relay.
Ainslie, who has won gold medals in sailing at the last three Olympics, then walked just 300 metres, allowing some of the hundreds of spectators lining the route in the morning sunshine to touch the gold-coloured torch.
The yachtsman, wearing the number 001 on his T-shirt as the first torchbearer, then passed on the torch to 18-year-old Anastassia Swallow, a surfer who is hoping that her sport will one day become an Olympic discipline.
The torch will be carried by 8,000 people as it makes its way around the United Kingdom, with its final destination the Olympic Stadium in east London for the opening ceremony on July 27. From June 3-7, it will visit Northern Ireland and then the Republic of Ireland — the only country outside the United Kingdom on the torch route.