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Olympic flame crosses London amid snow
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08:39, April 07, 2008

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The heavy snow in London exerted slim effect on people's passion of seeing Beijing Olympic flame as large crowds lined along the street to greet the relay of torch on Sunday in the host city of 2012 Games.

London boasted the longest relay of nearly 50 kilometers among cities outside China's mainland. Eighty torchbearers, including Paralympics, Olympic athletes and celebrities carried the torch through ten London boroughs from Wembley to Greenwich. Landmark buildings and ancient sites witnessed the sacred flame.

Dragon and lion dancing performance dressed up the Chinatown like a festival. Large groups of Chinese in squares or concentration point waited the flame hours before its arrival.

Quintuple Olympic gold medallist rower from Marlow Bottom SteveRedgrave initiated the relay within the Wembley Stadium.

Redgrave just criticized the binding of Olympics and politics days before the relay.

After striking gold in Sydney, Redgrave became the only English athlete ever to have won gold medals in five consecutive Olympic Games. His first Olympic gold came in the coxed fours in Los Angeles in 1984, followed by gold with Andy Holmes in the coxless pairs at Seoul in 1988, gold with Matthew Pinsent in the coxless pairs at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 and the Atlanta Olympics in 1996.

In the Downing Street, Prime Minister Gordon Brown met a special torchbearer Ali Jawad, a disabled athlete on wheelchair, who is on the brink of qualification for Beijing Paralympics.

"The Olympic games are very important for all Chinese. In Chinatown, everyone is very anxious to see the torch pass," said London Chinese Community Center spokeswoman Annie Wu. "We hope it goes smoothly."

Chinese ambassador to Britain Fu Ying ran her leg in Chinatown, who was a hot topic of British media over whether she would be a torchbearer.

"It's a great day for both London and Beijing. The two cities meet each other today," said Fu.

"I hope the Olympic flame can splash peace, harmony and friendship to the world. I'm happy to see large groups of residents give their warm welcome to the flame's arrival including the elderly and the young.

"The Chinatown leg is a very special experience. Britain is one of the top destinations for first-generation Chinese migrants, so a lot of people have been living here for decades.

"It's really a great pleasure to see Londoners smiling and waving."

The Asian descendant Mayuri Morawaka had a leg in Enfield. "I ran a year dance club with another fellow student once a week at my school, I also help with sports day and dance workshops. I am currently completing the Bronze Duke of Edinburgh Award," said Morawaka.

"I strongly support the Olympics because it encourages people to engage in more physical activity and a great opportunity to seethe world's sporting talents bringing each other closer."

Chun Pal Mak, an English student with Chinese origin living in London, carried the torch through Greenwich.

"This is the greatest honor to be able to represent Britain and China in this exchange of great importance. Since as a child I've watched the Olympics and prided myself that I am both British and Chinese," he said.

"I love sports and participate in many, representing the John Roan Secondary Schools cricket team. We reached the finals and we also won the under-15 league."

The last bearer is Dame Kelly Holmes, a retired English middle-distance athlete. She won gold medals in the 800 meters and1,500 meters at the 2004 Summer Games.

The route covers London's cross-sectional sites including Wembley Stadium, Notting Hill Gate, Hyde Park Place, Marble Arch, Oxford Circus, British Museum, Chinatown Arch, Trafalgar Square, Downing Street, Bridge Street, Waterloo Bridge, St Paul's Cathedral and Greenwich.

More than 80,000 people of Chinese descent live in London, making it the largest Chinese community in Europe.

Following the London leg of the Olympic Torch Relay, the torch will travel to Paris for its fifth leg in the global tour.

Source: Xinhua

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