Sochi 2014 flame ignited at ancient Olympia ceremony

02 October 2013 / 13:28

Sochi's Olympic flame started its 40,390 mile, 131 day journey to next year's Winter Olympics in ancient Olympia after a ceremony laden with symbolism.

Under clear skies, actresses dressed as ancient priestesses ignited the torch from the rays of the sun using a parabolic mirror.

Newly-elected International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach oversaw the rituals alongside members of the Sochi organising committee, including president and chief executive Dmitry Chernyshenko.

Greek alpine skier Ioannis Antoniou was the first to carry the torch after a traditional celebration at the Temple of Hera, which dates back centuries.

While Alex Ovechkin, the biggest name in Russian ice hockey, also ran with the flame, taking a break from his preparations with the Washington Capitals for the forthcoming NHL season.

The flame will spend a week travelling around Greece before arriving in Russia for what will be the longest torch relay in Winter Olympic history.

More than 14,000 people will carry the flame along its journey to the opening ceremony on February 7 which will see it travel by car, plane, train and even reindeer sleigh.

All 83 Russian regions will feature on a route that will navigate through 2,900 towns and it will also travel to the North Pole on a nuclear powered icebreaker, an expedition led by Russian polar explorer Artur Chilingarov.

© Sportsbeat 2013