Organized by the Hellenic Olympic Committee and held in the ruins of ancient Olympia's Temple of Hera, the flame lighting ceremony featured 11 white-clad priestesses. After one of the priestesses, played by well-known Greek actress Ino Menegaki, used sunlight and a parabolic mirror to ignite the flame, Greek alpine skiier Giannis Antoniou, 18, became the first torch bearer. Antoniou then passed the flame to the relay's first Russian bearer, Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals.
Ovechkin was honored to be chosen as the host nation's first torchbearer, and predicted the experience would rank as "one of the biggest moments of my life."
The torch will be carried by 250 different bearers as it takes a seven-day trip through Greece before arriving in Athens on Oct. 5 for the Olympic Flame Handover Ceremony. The torch will fly to Moscow on Oct. 6, and the impressive 123-day relay will officially commence a day later. The relay will feature a record-setting 14,000 torchbearers ranging in age from 14 to 93 carrying the flame through 83 regions of the Russian Federation.
The 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi will take place Feb. 7-23 as athletes from more than 80 countries come together to compete in 98 medal events.