LONDON — The Olympic torch has begun its tour of London – and to everyone’s relief, the weather is cooperating.
After weeks of unseasonably chilly temperatures and miserable rain, the sun came out Saturday as thousands of people turned out to watch the flame begin its seven-day trip of the Olympic host city.
The torch arrived late Friday in the city with a dramatic entrance, lowered from a helicopter by a Royal Marine to the Tower of London on the shore of the River Thames.
After a night locked inside the Jewel House of the 11th century landmark, the torch started a journey through London that took it from a historic ship to a shiny new shopping mall.
From the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, the home of Greenwich Mean Time, the torch was carried to the Cutty Sark, a newly restored 140-year-old ship docked in the Thames.
Nadia Comaneci, the legendary Romanian gymnast who won nine Olympic medals in the 1976 and 1980 games, and former basketball player John Amaechi took the torch to the roof of the North Greenwich Arena, where all of the gymnastics events and the basketball finals will be held.
“You know it doesn’t seem like it’s been 36 years ago,” Comaneci, the first female gymnast to be awarded a perfect 10 score in an Olympic gymnastics event, told the BBC. “It’s hard to believe that what I’ve done then people still remember. So I’m very honored to be here.”
Phillips Idowu, a champion triple jumper for Team Great Britain, later took the torch to the Westfield mall, Europe’s biggest, next to the Olympic Park.
Saturday’s torch relay also included stints from London’s youngest and oldest torchbearers: 12-year-old Chester Chambers, and 101-year-old Fauja Singh. Like most other torchbearers, they were nominated by their communities.
The torch, which has already traveled across Britain for more than two months, will continue to tour the streets of London until it ends its journey at the Olympic Stadium for the opening ceremony in the capital on July 27.