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Melamed to retrieve Olympic flame from Athens

Torch relay journey begins at the end of the month

Mayor Ken Melamed will be part of a historic journey this month to bring the Olympic flame from Athens to B.C., where it will begin its cross-country journey before the 2010 Games.

The whirlwind trip to Greece will last just two days at the end of October.

"We're very excited and very thrilled to have been invited to that," said Melamed this week.

The flame will be lit in Olympia, the site of the first Olympic Games in ancient Greece, on Oct. 22 using mirrors and the sun's rays. It will then embark on a weeklong journey through Greece before the handover at the Panathinaiko Stadium in Athens to Vancouver representatives.

From there it will travel with the Vancouver delegation in a security lantern for a trans-Atlantic flight on a Canadian Armed Forces' aircraft. That flight will land in Victoria, where the Torch Relay will officially begin on Oct. 30.

Three B.C. mayors were chosen to go on the trip at the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) convention last week. Their names were drawn from a pool of all B.C. mayors and regional district chairs.

Melamed, on the other hand, is representing Whistler as the Host Mountain Resort.

Joining him on the journey now is Mayor Ken McRae from Port Alberni, Mayor Carol Kulesha from the Village of Queen Charlotte and Mayor Ross Forrest from Lake Cowichan.

"Congratulations to these three community leaders who will now be ambassadors for all B.C. communities, and sharing our common goal of ensuring as many communities as possible have a chance to experience the flame," said John Furlong, chief executive officer of the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Games (VANOC).

"This invitation to these three community leaders to join the team going to Greece is our way to include all of B.C. in the excitement and to show our pride and say thank you to B.C. communities for their support."

The torch relay will visit more than 1,000 communities as it travels across Canada and back. The relay finishes its 106-day journey in Vancouver.

The relay before every Games is designed to spread the message of the Olympic Movement - unity, hope, peace, harmony, friendship and pride.

The torch relay will be passing through Whistler on Feb. 5-6.