Torch relay carries Olympic excitement through the UK

The Olympic torch relay has ended a successful first week, after commencing its 70-day journey from Lands End on Saturday 19 May 2012.

Three-time Olympic gold medallist Ben Ainsley was the first of the 8,000 torchbearers to carry the Olympic Flame for a leg of its journey, which is set to travel through more than 1,000 cities, towns and villages in the UK before arriving in London for the start of the Olympic Games in London in July.

Among the 885 inspirational torchbearers to accept the honour during the first week were a number of well-known faces. Joining Ben Ainslie on the first day of the relay was adventurer Ben Fogle, who took to the spotlight when he carried the Olympic Torch in a helium-filled balloon inside the Rainforest Biome at the Eden Project.

The excitement and fanfare continued into day two of the relay, with police having to limit the number of fans who turned out to watch band Muse carry it over Shaldon Bridge into Teignmouth, their hometown., singer for pop band the Black Eyed Peas, became the 109th torchbearer on Day 3 to carry the Flame and surprised the crowds with a moonwalk in honour of the late pop star Michael Jackson.

On Wednesday, former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba delighted thousands of fans lining the streets of Swindon, while the Princess Royal’s daughter, Zara Philips, marked the end of the fifth day when she carried the Flame into Cheltenham Racecourse on her horse, Toytown,.

The torch travelled from Cheltenham to Worcester on day six of the relay, carried by a further 119 torchbearers.  One particularly colourful procession saw 43-year-old Christopher Stokes from Kidderminster greeted by two elephants as he held the Flame aloft from a steam train travelling along the Severn Valley Railway.

Rounding up the first week, the torch was met by thousands of spectators as it entered Wales. Before crossing the border and arriving in the town of Monmouth, Wales, at 10.30am, British Olympic gold medallist Darren Campbell carried the flame in Worcester. 

As Olympic fever gains momentum throughout the UK, huge crowds are expected to turn out this weekend to catch a glimpse of the historical flame as it continues its journey around Wales.  

Find out more about the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay Presenting Partners.