Olympic flame welcomed by thousands

By IH 02/07 Updated: 03/07 07:50

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Crowds cheer on the torch as it passes along Lower Avenue after arriving at Leamington railway station.. Picture by Dave Atkinson. (s)

THE OLYMPIC flame was given a rousing reception when it arrived in the district on Sunday (July 1).

The towns of Warwick, Leamington and Kenilworth had never seen anything like it as tens of thousands, standing six deep in places, lined the roads waving flags and blowing horns, as The Olympic Torch Relay passed through on day 44 of its journey around the UK.

The sun even made a rare appearance for the day's 157 torchbearers who in total carried the torch 96 miles as it travelled from Birmingham to Coventry.

There was a real party atmosphere as young and old alike turned out to catch a glimpse of the flame, and share in a little piece of sporting history, which dates back some 2,700 to the ancient games in Greece, where a flame burned continually on the altar of the goddess, Hera.

Things have changed somewhat. The modern day flame is a accompanied on its travels by garish sponsors vehicles, selling everything from fizzy drinks to bank accounts, and more policeman than have been seen on the districts streets for many a moon.

There are also an army of peddlers selling flags, from Union Jacks to others proclaiming 'I saw the Olympic Flame'; plastic gold medals; air horns - all in the worst possible taste.

But for all the razzmatazz, the flame itself and the stories of the inspirational people chosen to carry it, maintained a detached dignity, and as they passed the torchbearers were politely applauded - in the best British tradition.

By the time the torch arrives at the Olympic stadium for the start of the Games, on July 27, some 8,000 runners will have covered 8,000 miles up and down the country during the 70 days of the relay.

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Andrew Clough passes the Olympic Flame to torchbearer Chloe Pahnke on the leg between Warwick and Leamington. (s)

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Andrew Clough carries the Olympic Flame along Myton Road. (s)

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The torch heading over Castle Bridge in Warwick. Picture by Gayle Kirton. (s)

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Buy photos» Thousands packed into Leamington's Parade to welcome the torch. (s)

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Buy photos» Flying the flag for the flame. (s)

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Little Greek goddesses - Cousins Isabella and Amber of Kenilworth, enjoying watching the Olympic Torch Relay on their doorstep. They thoroughly enjoyed dressing up and watching the relay. (s)

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Buy photos» View from above - every vantage point was taken in the Parade. (s)

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Buy photos» Flag sellers did brisk business. (s)

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Buy photos» Disco Matt was among the dancers on the buses of the corporate sponsors. (s)

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