DAVID BECKHAM is flying to Athens as the representative of British sport to bring back the Olympic flame on Friday, ready for its procession across the UK ending at the Olympics stadium for the start of the 2012 Games on 27 July.

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“Working with one of our most inspiring sports people is fitting for this hugely exciting time for the London 2012 Games,” said London Olympics supremo Lord Coe, also part of the select group heading for the Greek capital.

Beckham and Coe will be joined by London mayor Boris Johnson, Minister for Sport Hugh Robertson, one-time Olympic horse rider Princess Anne and five young sports boys and girls.

“Bringing the Olympic flame back from its ancient home in Greece is a hugely symbolic moment which will ignite people’s hopes and aspirations for what will be a summer like no other,” said Johnson ahead of the Athens trip.

Once back in the UK, the flame is headed for Land’s End, from where sailing gold medallist Ben Ainslie starts its 70-day journey across the length and breadth of the country, arriving in London on 22 July for a tour of the suburbs.