The first day of the torch relay in Guangdong was meant to be a chance to promote the Olympic spirit, but sponsors also made the most of their opportunity to sharpen public awareness of their brand names. A torch relay organiser said that while more than 20 per cent of the torch-bearers were athletes or retired sportspeople, nearly 30 per cent of the runners were selected by the sponsors. Samsung, Lenovo and Coca-Cola each nominated 15 runners for the 208 torch-bearer squad in Guangzhou, with minor sponsors contributing several more, according to a list released by government-owned website www.dayoo.com . Some residents woke as early as 5am hoping to secure positions along the route with the best views, only to be disappointed, with the event falling short of expectations. A group of spectators said the relay had not been as exciting as they thought it would be, despite three helicopters hovering overhead injecting some drama into the occasion. 'Except for the first runner, who we know is a famous sportsman, all the others were largely strangers to us,' one spectator said. Yang Jinghui, a gold medallist in the men's 10-metre diving pairs at the 2004 Athens Olympics, ran the first leg, and the last stretch was covered by Dong Zhaozhi, seven-times World Cup fencing champion. Two young men said they woke at 5am to ensure they could catch a glimpse of some of the stars in the relay. 'Some movie and pop stars were said to be running the relay, but where were they?' they asked. The relay started at the Baiyun International Convention and Exhibition Centre at 8.15am. In Beijing Avenue, the city's busiest commercial centre, the torch relay snaked along amid a red sea of flags. Almost all spectators had a flag, but some were deterred by the commercialism. 'I picked up a small red flag and felt happy while shouting, 'Come on Olympics, come on Beijing', but then someone told me the flag in my hand was a Coca-Cola advertisement rather than the national flag, which really made me feel awkward,' a woman in her 60s said. The torch also made an appearance at the memorial to Sun Yat-sen, the founding father of modern China. City authorities mobilised more than 10,000 police officers to cover the relay, with about 1,000 officers along the route, local media said. The weather helped, with temperatures of between 23 and 29 degrees Celsius and a breeze blowing. But it was not only the sponsors hoping to cash in on the relay. University student Li Jianmin was touting his T-shirts with Olympic logos along the relay route and hoped to sell more than 100 a day at 15 yuan each. 'This is also a way for me to join in and celebrate the Beijing Olympics,' he said. Close by, three students from Guangzhou University were selling anti-Tibet protest T-shirts. 'There won't be many attacks or disruptions to the relay now that we are doing it on our own soil, but protecting Tibet as a part of the motherland is still important and we want to tell all,' one of them said.