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Violating Sanctions

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The London Logs: I Found a NEW Flame!

The Author By Kelly Hayes-Raitt | July 21st, 2012 | Comments No Comments

[Here is a brief video of the torch passing in front of me. It was so close, I could’ve blown it out had I not been suffering this cold! I don’t know how to make this link look like a little TV screen. If you do, send help!]

torch3.jpgIn its first full day in London, the Olympic torch passed just 2 blocks from the flat where I am living this summer! I tracked its progress on a lame web site (set up by Microsoft), a silly bumblebee-looking icon inching along a gold line on a street map. But as the bumblebee got closer to Leyton, I got increasingly excited. torch5.jpg

When I left my front door, neighbors were streaming into the street, cameras strung over their shoulders, iPhones at the ready. I love this neighborhood. Within a stone’s throw of my flat, there are Russian and Polish delis, Middle Eastern and Indian restaurants, an Islamic madrassa (school), an African tchotchke boutique and the “Jesus is the Healer” Good News Shop. The devastatingly handsome proprietor of the café where I had lunch today is from Cyprus and speaks Greek, Turkish and perfect British English.torch2.jpg

We all collected only 1 or 2 people deep on High Road Leyton, watching corporate bus after corporate bus pass announcing the torch.torch4.jpg Suddenly, the torch itself appeared! And disappeared! I barely had enough time to turn on my movie camera. I wasn’t sure what I captured since my camera batteries died at that moment! torch-1.jpg

Although the torch relay is often described as an ancient ceremony celebrating peace, it started as Nazi propaganda during the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin. The ceremony has morphed into a tradition where the torch is lit by sunlight in Olympia and passed from runner to runner until the cauldron is lit signaling the opening of the Games.

In the UK alone, 8,000 torchbearers have or will carry the flame throughout the country. Today’s torchbearers ranged from a 12-year-old cricketer to a 101-year-old Sikh who started marathon running at 89! The official Olympic web site doesn’t specify individual runners’ routes, but my video is probably of Alexandra Cooper, a 30-year-old magazine writer.

[For more information about the torch relay’s origins, visit this article in The Atlantic:
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Category: London, Olympics
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