• London Olympic 2012

Ainslie kicks off London 2012 torch relay

ESPN staff
May 19, 2012

Three-time Olympic champion Ben Ainslie launched the London 2012 Olympic torch on its 8000-mile journey around Britain on Saturday.

The Olympic flame arrived in Cornwall on Friday night, where David Beckham lit the cauldron before the 70-day relay began, with Ainslie the first of 8000 torchbearers.

Ainslie, who had the honour of being the first athlete to be formally selected for Team GB, underlined his status as favourite to win a fourth Olympic gold medal this summer after winning the Finn world title for a sixth time this week.

"It's amazing," Ainslie said. "For me, growing up in this part of the world, in Cornwall, for the Olympic Torch to set off from here around the nation, is a fantastic moment for the UK, for London 2012. Very exciting."

Ainslie, who will compete in his fifth Olympics this summer, claims his role as the first torchbearer was more nerve-wracking than competing in the Games.

"Probably more nervous to be the first one here," he said. "It's a great moment but it's also a great moment for our country to have the Olympics here and we are all very excited."

Lord Sebastian Coe, who travelled to Greece for the handover ceremony said: "It's just suddenly come home that this is the first time this has happened in this country for 64 years."

The torch relay travels nationwide and will arrive in London's Olympic Stadium for the Opening Ceremony on July 27.

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