Michael Johnson hoists Olympic torch at Stonehenge

Thursday, July 12, 2012 | 7:29 p.m. CDT; updated 10:57 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 24, 2012
U.S. sprinter Michael Johnson holds the Olympic Torch at Stonehenge, England, on Thursday. Johnson has won four Olympic gold medals. The torch is being carried around England in a relay of torchbearers to make its way to the London Olympic Games opening ceremony.

STONEHENGE, England — For once, it wasn't raining at a key Olympic moment.

American track star Michael Johnson brought the Olympic flame to Stonehenge on Thursday, holding the torch aloft as the sun's rays ricocheted off the glowing stones.

Dressed in the white torchbearer tracksuit, the retired gold medalist ran a circuit of the monument before passing the flame to an athlete at the beginning of her sporting career — Amelia Clifford.

The 19-year-old won gold in the European junior championships last year in the 4-by-400 meter relay. She didn't get selected for the London Olympics, but will try again for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.

"It was a great moment," said Johnson afterward. "The sun's out, the sun's rising, clear skies today, running with the torch which is incredible anyway, but running with it around Stonehenge was an incredible moment."

The sparkling July day was in sharp contrast to the recent weather in Britain, which slogged through its wettest June on record. Many fear that the damp could continue into the games period, which kick off on July 27.

Stonehenge is one of Britain's best-known and least-understood monuments. The prehistoric circle was erected over the past 5,000 years with stones hauled from a site in southwest Wales some 155 miles (250 kilometers) away.

Now a massive tourist magnet, its original purpose remains a matter of conjecture and debate.

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