Olympic flame can inspire athletes

The Olympic flame can inspire and excite athletes ahead of the Games this summer and the lighting of it serves as a rallying call for people around the world. Lord Coe, speaking after the beacon was lit in Greece today (10 May), told the BBC this event acts as an invitation for the best stars to come to London later this year.

Taking place in the Temple of Hera ruins near the ancient Olympic Games stadium in Olympia, Greece, the showpiece lighting ceremony saw actress Ino Menegaki portraying a high priestess who uses a parabolic mirror to catch the sun's rays and transfer the flame to the first torchbearer.

Following a tour of Greece, the torch will fly to the UK before heading around the nation as part of a 70-day relay that ends with the opening ceremony of the Games in London.

Doug MacDonald, a member of the British Psychological Society, noted: "With less than 80 days before the opening ceremony, today saw the Olympic flame being lit for the London 2012 torch relay at a ceremony in Greece. 

"It is just a flame after all so what does the lighting of the Olympic flame mean to the athletes preparing for the games? 

"Lord Coe described it as a rallying call to the athletes and it seems that this symbol is one that the athletes value. 

"In 2000, Sir Matthew Pinsent described the excitement when he discovered that his accommodation had a direct view of the Olympic stadium and the then, unlit torch.

"On returning to his room, after carrying the flag at the opening ceremony, he reversed the way he slept on the bed so that by twitching the curtain with his foot, he could see the Olympic flame.

"The International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge, has said for him the flame represents the Olympic values of friendship, excellence and respect. 

"So while the flame may only be a symbol of the Games, it is perhaps a powerful one. While the athletes may have different feelings on what it represents, what they choose to let the flame represent could be a significant factor in how well they perform at the games."