Olympic flame goes out at start at torch lighting ceremony

Chris Chase
Fourth-Place Medal

The Olympic flame blew out at the start of Thursday's torch lighting ceremony in Greece's ancient Olympic stadium but was soon relit to start its 78-day journey to the 2012 London Games.

A gust of wind snuffed the flame at the beginning of the ceremony in Olympia, forcing a priestess in the ceremony to re-light it with a backup. The flame was being held in a bowl from the temple of Hera.

As it tradition, both flames were created using only the sun and a mirror.

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Actress Ino Menegaki, playing the priestess, lit the flame after a brief ceremony that included ancient dances and music.

The priestess then handed off the flame to Liverpool-born Greek swimming world champion Spyros Gianniotis.

Gianniotis carried the flame around the ancient ruins, past assembled fans. Only 50 VIPs were allowed to watch the actual ceremony. Others gathered nearby.

The flame was passed to 19-year-old Alex Loukos to symbolize the transfer from Greece to England.

The flame will travel 1,800 miles through Greece this week before going to the United Kingdom next week, where it starts its 70-day, 8,000-torchbearer journey, culminating at London's Olympic Stadium on July 27.

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