Olympic torch: Sir Chris Hoy takes flame in Manchester

image captionSir Chris Hoy carried the flame down packed streets in the heart of Manchester

Olympic cyclist Sir Chris Hoy has carried the torch into Manchester city centre on day 36 of its relay.

The London 2012 torch relay has travelled from the Lancastrian coast to the north-west's largest city, Manchester.

Sir Chris, 36, said he was "very excited" to have been chosen to carry the torch in his adopted home city.

The day's relay started at one of the homes of UK golf, Lytham St Anne's, which will stage The Open in July.

There, 14-year-old schoolgirl Alice Kelly , who raised £1,200 towards an education project in The Gambia, took up the flame at 06:05 BST.

After a stop in Warton, the relay moved on to Preston, where the Olympic flame was carried by former 800m champion Diane Modahl, who won gold at the 1990 Commonwealth Games and competed in four Olympic Games.

The morning also saw Rosie Hollis , 26, from Darwen, take the flame to Blackburn Town Hall. She launched a campaign to lower the age for cervical smear screening after she was diagnosed with cancer of the cervix two years ago.

The relay then called at Accrington, Burnley, Crawshawbooth, Reedsholme and Rawtenstall before arriving in Rochdale.

Lee Seung Gi, one of Korea's top actors, was among a number of Korean torchbearers on Saturday. He took the torch through Rochdale.

The torch stopped next in Heywood and Bury before moving through the Greater Manchester areas of Whitfield, Prestwich, Higher Broughton and Cheetham Hill before arriving in the city centre itself.

Sir Chris took the flame down Deansgate in front of a throng on either side. The Scot, who is targeting more Olympic gold medals in London, trains in Manchester.

Before setting off with the torch in his adopted home city, Sir Chris said carrying the torch had been a "family affair".

He said: "My mum carried the torch just outside Wigan, my great uncle Andy carried it just outside Dundee and I watched them both online on the live-cam [the torchcam livestream] and it was very emotional to see what it meant, particularly to my great uncle Andy.

"He's 95 years of age and to see how many people from the community came out to support him, it was phenomenal.

"It just shows the Olympic torch, it's not about gold medals, it's about communities coming together and supporting people who have made a difference to them."

He added: "I am just very, very happy and grateful I have been asked to join in with this party."

Sir Chris handed the flame on to another noted cyclist, Geoff Cooke. The 67-year-old competed for Britain at the Olympic and Commonwealth Games, winning tandem sprint gold at the 1974 Commonwealths, before going on to coach the national squad. He still cycles and coaches juniors.

The torch relay also visited Manchester's statue of mathematician and computer pioneer Alan Turing on the centenary of his birth .

The Olympic flame was taken to the monument by Martin Hewitt , 30, a soldier who lost the use of his right arm when he was shot in Afghanistan but has now become an international skier.

The relay came to a close with an evening celebration in the city's Albert Square.

The flame was carried onto the stage by 2011 Mancunian Of the Year, Carl Tilson , who has raised more than £100,000 for a charity that helps fellow sufferers of muscle-wasting disease Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

Bands the Tribe and the Courteeners, the Hallé Youth Choir and Britain's Got Talent finalists, dance act Twist and Pulse then entertained the crowds.

The show was followed by a free party at the Printworks, Withy Grove, with some of Africa's finest musicians bringing the 2012 Cultural Olympiad to Manchester's streets.

The high winds that marred Friday's relay abated on Saturday but there was still a scattering of rain.

On Friday, a trip to the top of Blackpool Tower was called off and the relay route was diverted away from the sea front.

A BBC Blue Peter live outside broadcast and event in Burnley on Saturday was cancelled because of poor conditions.

A total of 8,000 people will carry the flame during its 8,000 mile, 70-day journey to the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in London on 27 July.

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