Olympic torch begins trek across U.K.

May 19, 2012 at 11:48 AM

CORNWALL, England, May 19 (UPI) -- British Olympic sailor Ben Ainslie Saturday led off the 8,000-mile journey of the Olympic torch in the runup to the Summer Games in London.

The flame will be on the road for 70 days as it is carried through villages and cities in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, CNN reported.

"It will visit a thousand towns, and be seen by millions," Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said as Ainslie prepared to hit the road. "With every step, the excitement will build. And 10 weeks from now, the world will watch as the flame arrives at the new Olympic Stadium."

Ainslie, who has won three Olympic gold medals for his skippering skills, picked up the torch on the Cornwall coast and handed it off to teenage surfing star Anastassia Swallow. More than 100 runners will carry the torch on the first day, CNN said.

The flame arrived in Britain Friday aboard a Royal Air Force plane, accompanied by Princess Anne, London Mayor Boris Johnson and soccer star David Beckham.

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