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After the lighting ceremony in Olympia, the flame embarked on an eight-day journey across Greece, travelling to Crete and the north of the country via Thessaloniki, Xanthi and Larissa, before arriving on 17 May in Athens to be officially handed over to the Organising Committee of the Olympic Games in London.
The flame then flew to the United Kingdom, where it arrived on 18 May. The British relay began the following day in Land’s End in Cornwall, with Ben Ainslie, triple Olympic champion in sailing from Britain as the first runner. The relay route was designed so that 95 per cent of the population of the United Kingdom, the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey would be a maximum of one hour from the route travelled by the flame. The flame stopped off in Much Wenlock, Stonehenge, Windsor Castle, the White Cliffs of Dover, Orkney and the Channel Islands.
On 21 July, the flame entered the city of London in spectacular fashion. Indeed, it was flown in by a Royal Navy Sea King helicopter. Hovering 20 m above Tower Wharf, a Royal Marine Commando abseiled from the helicopter, carrying the flame in a lantern attached to him. The flame then travelled some 300 km over the week in the British capital and was carried by 982 torchbearers, passing by the city’s most famous monuments.
On the day of the Opening Ceremony, the flame was transported from Tower Bridge to the Stadium by speedboat, carried by footballer David Beckham and young female footballer Jade Bailey. They passed the flame on to Steve Redgrave, a five-time Olympic gold medallist in rowing. Then, in order to symbolise the passing of the Olympic flame to the young generation, seven young athletes aged 16 to 19 had the honour of lighting the cauldron.
The cauldron, measuring 8.5 metres high, was made in the form of a flower made from copper petals. Each of these petals, brought in by a participating nation, was meant to bloom during the Games. After the Games, a petal was given to each participating country as a souvenir of the sporting achievements of their athletes. On the petal the name of the country was engraved.