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Olympic torch begins trek around London

July 21, 2012|By Dan Loumena
  • Olympic torchbearers Nadia Comaneci, left, and John Amaechi atop the North Greenwich Arena in London on Saturday.
Olympic torchbearers Nadia Comaneci, left, and John Amaechi atop the North… (Gareth Fuller / Associated…)

The Olympic torch began its seven-day trek around London on Saturday under sunny skies, an unusual twist after weeks of unseasonably cold temperatures and wet weather.

The torch arrived at the Tower of London along the River Thames on Friday night aboard a Royal Marine helicopter. The flame spent the night inside the Jewel House at the tower, an 11th century landmark, before a tour that took it from the recently restored 140-year-old Cutty Sark ship to London's newest mall.

Among the luminaries on hand to help begin the tour of the Summer Olympics host city were Nadia Comaneci, the legendary Romanian gymnast who won nine medals in the 1976 and 1980 Summer Games, and basketball player John Amaechi. The two took the torch to the roof of the North Greenwich Arena, which will be the venue for the gymnastics events and basketball finals.

“You know it doesn't seem like it's been 36 years ago,” said Comaneci, who was the first female gymnast to earn a perfect score of 10 in an Olympic gymnastics event,. “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 Britain, later took the torch to Europe's biggest mall, the Westfield, next to the Olympic Park. Also taking part in the torch relay Saturday were London's youngest and oldest bearers: 12-year-old Chester Chambers and 101-year-old Fauja Singh. Like most torchbearers, they were nominated by people in their communities.

The torch relay, which has been going across Britain for 60 days, will continue around London for another week until the opening ceremony Friday at Olympic Stadium.

Associated Press and the BBC contributed to this report.

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