By Mitch Phillips

LONDON (Reuters) - The London 2012 Olympics has unwittingly acquired its first iconic image after unveiling an Olympic torch design which looks like a huge cheesegrater on Wednesday.

The gold-colored aluminum torch has the meshed appearance of the useful kitchen implement due to the presence of 8,000 holes supposed to represent each person who will carry it on the torch relay.

Ignoring the unwelcome comparisons, the designers said its triangular shape symbolizes the three times that London has staged the Games in 1908, 1948 and 2012, the faster, higher stronger motto of the Olympic movement and the sport, education and culture triple vision of the 2012 Games.

After having its flame ignited by sunlight at Ancient Olympia, the torch relay will begin next May at Land's End, the most south westerly point of the country, and travel to the islands of the Outer Hebrides north of Scotland before finishing with the symbolic lighting of the cauldron in a yet-to-be-revealed location in the Olympic Park on July 27.

Organizers want half the 8,000 torch relay runners to be aged between 12 and 24 and the other half to be made up of people who have inspired others or made a contribution to their local community. The public can nominate people for the role.

A promise that the torch would be carbon-free failed to materialize and instead it will burn a traditional gas mixture.

(Editing by Ed Osmond)