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Olympic flame lands in 2012 host London

LONDON, April 5 (Xinhua) -- The Olympic flame for the Beijing Games landed Saturday in London, the 2012 Olympics host city, setting out for the largest city relay outside the Chinese mainland.

    The Olympic flame will be carried through London as part of the global Olympic flame journey. Large crowds are expected to cheer for the 80 torchbearers, including Paralympics, Olympic athletes and celebrities as they carry the torch through 10 London boroughs from Wembley to Greenwich.

    As the host of the 2012 Olympic Games, London relay is designed to cover the longest route.

    The first torchbearer is Steve Redgrave, quintuple Olympic gold medallist rower from Marlow Bottom. After striking gold in Sydney, Redgrave became the only English athlete ever to have won gold medals in five consecutive Olympic Games. His first Olympic gold came in the coxed fours in Los Angeles in 1984, followed by gold with Andy Holmes in the coxless pairs at Seoul in 1988, gold with Matthew Pinsent in the coxless pairs at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, the Atlanta Olympics in 1996.

In the Downing Street, prime minister Gordon Brown will meet a special torchbearer Ali Jawad, a disabled athlete on wheelchair, who is on the brink of qualification for the Beijing Paralympics.

    The last bearer is Dame Kelly Holmes, a retired English middle-distance athlete. She won gold medals in the 800m and 1500m at the 2004 Summer Games.

    A mixed Chinese-English Emily Giles will run in the relay. "Being selected to help carry the Olympic torch for the Beijing Games would mean so much for me. With roots in China on my mother's side and England on my father's, I feel I can symbolize the links between these games and the next," said Giles after being honored to carry the flame.

    Chinese ambassador to Britain Fu Ying will be among the torchbearers. The Princess Royal and mayor of London Ken Livingstone are going to attend the celebration ceremony.

The route is to pass through London's cross-sectional sites including Wembley Stadium, Notting Hill Gate, Hyde Park Place, Marble Arch, Oxford Circus, British Museum, Chinatown Arch, Trafalgar Square, Downing Street, Bridge Street, Waterloo Bridge, St Paul's Cathedral and Greenwich.

    The torch is set to travel to 21 cities on five continents outside the Chinese mainland before arriving in Beijing for the start of 2008 Games on August 8.

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