The first hovered at 60ft above Tower Wharf to allow four marines – Corporal Dan Silman, and Marines Tom Petty, Dave Nash and Chris Marshall – to fast rope down to the cobbled walkway to mark the area for the abseil. The second helicopter then hovered at 180ft as Marine Martyn Williams abseiled to the ground, carrying the Olympic Flame in a lantern that was strapped securely to him.
The Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander Jake Wilkinson, said: “This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience which all members of the Royal Navy’s Commando Helicopter Force and the Royal Marines Commandos are justifiably proud to have been part of.” He continued, “I couldn’t be more proud of our role with the Olympic Flame.”
Having visited over 1,000 communities around the UK and celebrated the achievements of over 7,000 Torchbearers, the Olympic Torch Relay will see the Flame carried by 982 Torchbearers around 200 miles of the capital’s streets over the next week, showcasing London’s landmarks to the world.
Dame Kelly Holmes, who won the 800m and 1500m gold medals in the Athens 2004 Olympic Games was the first Torchbearer in the capital in recognition of her success as an athlete and her involvement in London’s bid to host the Games. Dame Kelly, who also competed in the Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, carried the Flame from Tower Wharf up on to the ramparts of the Tower of London. The Flame was then taken to the Queen’s House by the Constable of The Tower of London for safe keeping overnight.
Sebastian Coe, London 2012 Chairman, said: “With the eyes of the world on London we welcome the Olympic Flame to the capital this evening in spectacular style. The week ahead will see hundreds of inspiring people enjoying their moment to shine as they carry the Flame through the streets of every London Borough as the final countdown to the London 2012 Games begins.”
On Saturday, the Flame began the day in the Royal Borough of Greenwich, where it visited Greenwich Park, venue for the London 2012 equestrian competition, and North Greenwich Arena, the venue for the London 2012 gymnastics events and basketball finals. It was carried onto the roof of the arena by former gymnast Nadia Comaneci, who won nine Olympic gold medals in the 1976 and 1980 Games.
The Flame then travelled on through the London Boroughs of Newham, Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Waltham Forest.
On its way it was carried by Tessa Sanderson-White, who remains the only British woman ever to have won an Olympic gold medal for a throwing event, after her success in the javelin in Los Angeles in 1984.
Also carrying the Flame in Newham was 101-year-old Fauja Singh – the oldest Torchbearer in the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay – who started running marathons at the age of 89 and has since inspired runners all over the world.
Find out more about the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay Presenting Partners.
Find out more about the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay