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Olympic torch relay begins
Thursday May 17, 2012 - Email this article to a friend

The flame has started its 70-day journey round the country. There are 8,000 bearers including a number of snowsports athletes; Chemmy Alcott, Ed Drake, Katie Summerhayes, Ellie Koyander and Talan Skeels-Piggins. PlanetSKI was there as the torch started its journey.

It was ignited in Greece on 10th May and was bought to the UK by a delegation including Lord Coe, British Olympic Association President the Princess Royal, Olympics Minister Hugh Robertson and the London Mayor, Boris Johnson.

"As the Olympic torch travels the width and breadth of the United Kingdom on its way to the Olympic Stadium in London, its powerful symbolism and the inspiring stories of many of the torchbearers will touch hearts and fire imaginations around the world," said the IOC President, Jacques Rogge.

It arrived with a welcoming ceremony at RNAS Culdrose on Friday.

It will be carried 8,000 miles around the country by 8,000 bearers in a 70-day relay ending at the Olympic Park in East London on July 27th

Each bearer carries it for 300m.

It started its journey at Land's End on Saturday morning when triple Olympic sailing champion, Ben Ainslie, was the first to carry the torch on British soil.

One of our reporters was there as the plane touched down and sent us the pictures below from her prime position.














Princess Anne brings flame to UK soilPrincess Anne brings flame to UK soil













David Beckham lights the torchDavid Beckham lights the torch













For a report on its progress see this story on the BBC.

The torch in PenzanceThe torch in Penzance

















Snowpsorts athletes are part of the team of bearers.

Britain's Number one female racer, Chemmy Alcott is one. She will be carrying it as it travels through Ealing in West London.

Chemmy AlcottChemmy Alcott














"It is an amazing honour and privilege to be selected to carry the Olympic Torch and to be part of the most important and prestigious sporting event in the world," said Chemmy who hopes to be representing Britain at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Ed Drake, who took part in the Vancouver Olympics, is another Olympic snowsports athlete who will be taking part. He runs in Hastings on July 18th.

Ed DrakeEd Drake













"I feel very lucky to get the opportunity to run with the torch, it means a lot to me that I am being recognised for my achievements as a TeamGB athlete not just a Winter one," Ed Drake said to PlanetSKI.

Also running with the torch will be 16-year old Emily Summerhayes. She will be taking it through Sheffield city centre on June 25th.

She is the GB Ski Freesyle Champion and hopes to be at Sochi 2014.

Katie SarsfieldKatie Summerhayes
















"I was totally stoked when I heard the news. It is such a privilege to be able to carry the torch. Everyone at school is so hyped about the Olympics. Everywhere I turn I see something about Team GB and it's an amazing feeling just to be a part of it," said Katie to local media.

Katie was the flag-bearer for Team GB at the Winter Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck last January as we reported from the Austrian city.

Another skier carrying the torch is Talan Skeels-Piggins,  he is carrying it in Bath on May 22nd.

Talan Skeels-PigginsTalan Skeels-Piggins













He is perhaps not so well-known but his story is remarkable. 

He is disabled and has represented his country at the Paralympics.

He was injured in a motorcycle accident in 2003. He broke his spine and neck and was left paralysed from the chest down.

Here is statement from a person who nominated him.

"When Talan taught in my school he was the only teacher that got me interested and enjoying rugby, this was before he had his accident. Since having the accident he has become even more inspirational a lot more people. He has just retired from competitive skiing after taking part in two world championships and a winter Paralympics for Team GB. He is now coaching skiing to both the disabled and able bodied person, mentoring current athletes, and he is going into schools talking about disability awareness and the opportunities that it can provide. Recently Talan has set up a charity (The Bike Experience), in this charity it teaches disabled motorcyclists to get back on the bike using specially adapted motorcycles. If anything Talan has become more of an inspiration after his accident than before. This is the reason for being nominated, for not giving up."

Another man involved with adapative skiing who is carrying the torch is Robbie Young,  the vice-chair of Disability Snowsport UK. He will be carrying it through Inverness on June 11th.

60-year old Robbie Young has been nominated thanks to his long-term involvement in disability snowsports.

He has been involved in running and managing the British Disabled Ski Team and has also been the team's technician. He was involved in the Turin and Vancouver Winter Olympic Games.

Since he heard he was going to be an Olympic toch bearer, he has apparently been running two miles each day.

Robbie Young is also a Board member of the British Association of Snowsport Instructors, BASI.

The women's mogul skier, Ellie Koyander, is also taking part. She carries it on June 30th through Burton upon Trent.

Ellie KoyanderEllie Koyander













At 18, Ellie was the youngest member of TeamGB at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics.

She represented Great Britain in Freestyle Moguls Skiing and came 24th.

If you want to find out the route of the torch and when it passes near to you then see this guide from the BBC.

For the spirit of the mountains

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