ATHENS, Sept. 29 (Xinhua) -- The flame for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics was lit on Sunday at the birthplace of the Games at Ancient Olympia during a ritual ceremony.
The event ended with the start of the torch relay which will reach Sochi on February 7 for the opening ceremony of the XXII Winter Olympic Games.
Under clear skies using the sun's rays and a parabolic mirror Greek actress Ino Menegaki performing the role of an ancient High Priestess lit the Flame at 12:44 pm local time among the ruins of the 2,500-year-old Temple of ancient Greek mythology goddess Hera.
"Apollo, King of the sun, and the Idea of light, send your rays and light the sacred torch for the hospitable city of Sochi," she "prayed" to the God of Sun in Greek mythology.
At the closing of the ceremony inside the ancient Stadium, where the first Olympic Games were held, she handed over the torch to the first torch bearer, Greek alpine skier Yannis Antoniou, under a warm applause.
The torch relay kicked off as he then passed the sacred flame to ice hockey athlete Alexander Ovechkin, the first Russian to carry the torch during its trip to Sochi for the February 7-23 Games.
The Greek leg of the relay covering 2,000 kilometers will end on October 5 with a hand-over ceremony at the Panathenaic stadium in Athens, the venue of the first modern Olympic Games were held in 1896.
During the Russian leg of the Relay the Olympic Flame will cover 65,000 kilometers. The torch which will be carried by some 14,000 torchbearers, will reach as far as outer space in a historic first, travelling up to the International Space Station.
The Flame which symbolizes the Olympic values travels with the best wishes of Greeks and other members of the Olympic Movement for best success for the Sochi Games.
"We wish that the Olympic Light will inspire leaders and citizens of the world to cooperate for world peace," Mayor of Ancient Olympia Efthymios Kotzias said, addressing Sunday's event which was attended by Greek and foreign dignitaries.
In his address President of the Hellenic Olympic Committee Spyros Kapralos noted that the values of the Olympic Games can contribute to the creation of a better world.
"I am certain that the organizers will offer us excellent Games," added the new President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Thomas Bach.
On the part of the Russian organizers, Dmitry Chernyshenko, head of the Organizing Committee of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics promised to carry the Flame "with proud and dignity", thanking the Olympic movement "for the trust you put in us."