Flame lights up London after epic journey

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AFTER 8,000 miles and 70 days snaking around Britain the Olympic flame reached its destination last night to mark the start of London 2012 games.

The Torch, which has been seen by millions of excited spectators on its journey, was taken down the Thames on the royal rowbarge Gloriana yesterday as spectators flocked to the river banks to catch a glimpse of the flame.

The £1m vessel, powered by 16 oarsmen, transported the flame downriver in a cauldron to Tower Bridge.

The day’s first torchbearer was Rosie Hynes, 18, from Manchester, who is part of the Great Britain under-20s basketball squad, who carried it in Bushey Park. Nine torchbearers then ran in relay through the grounds of Hampton Court, including around its famous hedge maze.

The last land-based torchbearer was four-time Olympic gold medallist Matthew Pinsent, who carried the flame from the palace to the Gloriana.

Then rowers young and old, ranging from members of London Youth Rowing to two men in their 90s who took part in the 1948 Games, took it in turns to man the oars of the Royal barge. The last torchbearer was Amber Charles, 22, of east London, who had delivered London’s Olympic bid to members of the International Olympic Committee in 2004. She carried the flame to Tower Bridge before it was taken to City Hall, then remaining out of view until the opening ceremony.

The flame’s journey through Yorkshire last month saw it pass through more than 70 towns, cities and landmarks. It was taken on the Flying Scotsman between York and Thirsk and visited the Humber Bridge, Headingley Cricket Ground in Leeds and was carried by London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games chairman Lord Coe in his home city of Sheffield.