The Olympic Flame is coming…and it will be making its way across the UK and Northern Ireland on a carefully planned route to bring it within 10 miles of 95 per cent of the population as it passes through some of Britain’s main cultural attractions.
The final two days of the route are still to be revealed on May 19 but already the 8,000-mile, 8,000-person relay from Olympia in Greece to London promises to be quite extraordinary for many reasons. The Flame arrives in the UK on May 18.
The oldest torchbearer taking part is Dinah Gould, age 99, but she will be 100 by the time she carries the torch on one of the last two days before the Opening Ceremony. The great-grandmother says she’s extremely proud to be part of the symbolic Flame’s 70-day British journey, which starts at Land’s End where it arrives on May 18. The torch will be carried by a different person in one-mile long stretches, until it reaches the Olympic Stadium in Stratford, East London.
Mrs Gould, who puts her longevity down, in part, to chocolate, is already practising for the event. She’ll be watched by her six grandchildren as she carries the torch through Barnet on July 25.
The Olympics will provide a welcome boost to hotel and timeshare resorts in the UK, as all eyes will be on Britain during the Games. Much of the accommodation has already been booked, and London’s airports and hotels are bracing themselves for a very busy summer. Hotels and resorts based outside London but which have easy access into the capital by train have also reported heavy bookings.
Mrs Gould told The Telegraph this week that she owes her fitness levels down to chocolate and regular exercise. She said: “I am a chocoholic and good health is in my genes. My mother lived until she was 102. I take a class twice a week to encourage people to keep mobile and keep fit, I teach them to throw a ball and improve their co-ordination, and just to keep mobile.”
Many of the 8,000 torchbearers are members of the public who’ve shown community spirit, courage and sporting determination, or who have overcome a major health setback such as a stroke. The youngest torchbearer is a 12-year old boy. All will be wearing white and gold “uniforms” specially designed by adidas.
On the Flame’s final UK journey, about 115 torchbearers will carry the Torch for their personal one mile-long section each day in the run up from May 19 to July 27. A number of celebrities and sports personalities will also be joining in – details are still to be announced.
The Flame will travel along the UK route in some interesting ways. One torchbearer will skate with it at the Nottingham Ice Centre, it will be rowed down the Thames at Henley and on the River Bann in Coleraine in Northern Ireland, it’ll abseil down the Dock Tower at Grimsby and even catch a ride on the legendary Flying Scotsman train between York and Thirsk.
The Olympic organisers have made sure the flame highlights some of Britain’s major cultural attractions – it’ll pass by the Turner Gallery in Margate and Cass Sculpture Foundation at Goodwood as well as famous sports stadiums and racecourses.
Lord Coe, Chair of the London 2012 Organising Committee, said: "The flame symbolises the Olympic spirit and its journey around the UK will bring the excitement of the Games to our streets. Now the people know the route the Olympic Flame will be carried along and the torchbearers for their community, they can start planning how they might celebrate."
To see the route the Olympic Flame will follow, and find out more about the torchbearers and festivities during the Games, click here:http://www.london2012.com/olympic-torch-relay-map
Official London Olympic Games website: www.London2012.com