Olympic Torch Relay - 22nd July 2012
It was a fairly early start to my day, well early for a Sunday anyway, as I woke up at 8am in preparation for the day I would run with the Olympic torch. My biggest worry was that as I still hadn’t received my tracksuit as originally planned but at short notice had to pick it up at the collection point, I was hoping it all fits!
My journey started in the car with my dad driving me to the collection point, cranking up the volume and banging out the tunes whilst listening to Kiss FM’s ‘Kisstory’. We had to go to the Civic Centre in Dagenham to register, collect my tracksuit and have a briefing. The sun was shining and it looked like it was going to be a great day.
As I arrived at the Civic Centre there were a few other Torch Bearers there, all waiting and all seemingly excited. I checked in and was given my tracksuit. I changed into it, slightly big but it was great. I was soon given my number, 87, which I stuck on my top, now it felt real.
We were scheduled to leave at 12:30 so while we were waiting, we all shared our Torch Bearer stories. I met some people with very inspirational stories and sat among Olympic medallists. We all got on the bus and I was told by the team secretly to sit at the front because there was no air conditioning on the bus!! A wise move at it did get hot in there.
As each Torch Bearer was driven to their start point, the whole bus would cheer as they got off ready to start their moment to shine. We drove past hundreds and hundreds of people all waving at the bus. I finally knew what it felt like to be a celebrity!
I was scheduled to run about 1:30 as Torch Bearer number 87. As my moment approached, the crowd suddenly doubled in size, I couldn’t believe how many people were there at the market! Finally I started to become a tiny bit nervous as my time arrived. I was given my torch and as the doors of the coach opened a big cheer erupted as I stepped off the bus waving to the watching crowd.
I was met by a chaperone to accompany me and asked about my story while I waited a few minutes for the flame. I stood there looking for my family and friends, and then saw my dad with a camera. As the Coca Cola bus, Samsung and Lloyds busses passed, they all congratulated me as they drove past. Finally, after the waiting, I saw Torch Bearer number 86 coming along with the flame; here was my moment to shine.
I stood there holding the raised torch as the flame was passed on to me lighting my torch. I was now carrying the Olympic flame!
Time to run!
I was told where to run by a member of the team and I decided to walk so everyone watching would get a good look but as they are on a specific schedule I was told by the team to do a light jog! The atmosphere suddenly went up another level as the crowd cheered as I went past. I saw my Granddad and friend Stephanie there cheering me on which made me smile even more. I stopped close to them before I ran into the market as the convoy and camera crew had to turn right and I had to go left into the Market Place where the tight relay route had been laid out through the cheering crowd.
I thought that crowd was big already, but I hadn’t expected the crowd that came next! There were barriers up, and what seemed like thousands upon thousands of people either side of me, they were closer than before so the cheering was huge and even louder. People congratulated me as I ran past and I saw a few familiar faces in the crowd shouting my name so I’d spot them and wave.
My arm did begin to ache slightly from holding the torch, but I could see the next torch bearer not too far ahead of me. I finally stopped at the kiss point to pass the flame on and as the next torch was lit I saw my brother in the crowd and I gave a nod.
I was then met by another team member and I had to run back the way I came to get to the waiting coach, so I practically got two runs in! What a brilliant experience.
The crowd cheered again as I ran back and people I never met before knew my name. It was amazing. I wish I could re live the experience.
Once back on the coach we collected the remaining Torch Bearers after their runs and headed back to the Civic Centre. A small crowd was waiting there to collect the runners and have some photos taken with the Torches. Once off the bus we were all called up to collect our Olympic Torches one by one each receiving a cheer from everyone there including my dad who had returned to collect me. As we walked back to the car it was funny to see peoples jaws drop when you walk across the road wearing your official Stella McCartney designed Olympic Torch Bearer uniform and carrying the Olympic Torch over your shoulder.
The day ended with a few family friends round, and a mention on the news. Proud to be part of the Olympic experience!