Olympic flame torchbearers revealed

 

An Iraq war veteran, an 84-year-old marathon "walker" and a star teenage gymnast with cystic fibrosis were confirmed today as among the 8,000 people to carry the Olympic Flame next summer.

The trio were among 29 torchbearers guaranteed a part of the 8,000 mile route.

It will take them and a relay team of 8,000 "inspirational" people 70 days to complete.

The 29 were told in the last few weeks they had won one of the first confirmed places and were then sworn to secrecy.

Moira Starkey, 84, from Storridge, Herefordshire, won her place after raising more than £10,000 for charity and by walking round Storridge village hall 2,000 times to cover 26 miles.

Miss Starkey, who walks with two sticks, said: "I am fighting fit.

"I found out I was involved a fortnight ago but I had to keep it under wraps and I couldn't say anything.

"I don't mind how far I walk as long as I don't drop it."

She will be joined by Simon Brown, 32, from Morley, West Yorkshire, who lost most of his sight after being shot in the face while saving six colleagues in Iraq in 2006.

He was nominated for helping young people come to terms with sight loss and for his work with military charities.

Mr Brown, who served with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, said he was ecstatic.

"Five years ago I was in a hospital bed being told I had lost my sight. I went from being a soldier to being a blind man.

"I have been rebuilding my life for the last five years and the nomination is recognition of how far I've come."

The former soldier applauded his fellow torchbearers for their strength of character.

He said: "I chose to join the Army and got hurt doing that but lots of these people have had things thrust upon them. I am humbled to be around them."

Mr Brown summed up the flame carriers' excitement for their big day, saying: "My heart's going to be thumping and there will be butterflies in my stomach but I am just going to enjoy the moment.

"Hearing people cheering and shouting your name will be spine-tingling."

Gymnast Holly Hamill, 17, of Glengormly, Northern Ireland, was nominated by her family and coach for overcoming cystic fibrosis to become a star athlete - this year winning four gold apparatus medals at the Rhythmic British Championships.

She said: "It is amazing to be part of this - I just hope I don't fall over. The feeling should be epic."

Her mother Brenda said: "Holly has always been determined and would not let cystic fibrosis stop her doing anything. I am absolutely delighted for her."

The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) has made 6,800 conditional offers so far - with participants subject to background checks.

The final Torchbearer team will be revealed by March.

The lucky 29 were revealed today at a series of Olympic events around the country.

All have remarkable stories of courage, achievement and overcoming adversity.

Matt Short, 20, from Tonbridge, Kent, was nominated for setting up a charity to research a rare form of bone cancer he was diagnosed with in November 2007.

Mr Short, who lost a leg to the disease, has undergone long bouts of chemotherapy and hopes his day carrying the torch will have extra significance.

"Hopefully, it will mark an end to my period of recovery and be a new beginning," he said.

"If I had to do it tomorrow, it would be impossible."

Mr Short still suffers from the symptoms of his illness but summed up the spirit of his fellow torchbearers, saying: "You just get on with it - make the most of the life you have."

Also nominated were a series of people whose selflessness had improved their communities, such as Darwin Bernardo, 23, from north London, nominated for his work to steer young people away from lives of crime and anti-social behaviour.

Posing with the Olympic torch, he said: "I am overwhelmed, there is so much to take in.

"It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I never thought it would be me.

"It's not sunk in yet but it will do when I speak to my friends about it.

"On the day I'll just focus on my 300 metres and take each step with pride knowing I'm representing a generation of young people who have made a difference in their communities."

Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, said: "Huge congratulations to all those with an offer of an Olympic torchbearer place.

"They are an exceptional group of individuals and it's an honour for us all that these people are one step closer to carrying the Olympic flame on its exciting journey around the UK."

Part of the torchbearers' route looks set to break with tradition as sporting chiefs are allowing the flame to travel outside the UK into the Republic of Ireland ahead of the London games.

Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny said it brought the spirit of the Games closer to home.

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Travel Customer Service and Experience Manager

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing travel comp...

Recruitment Genius: Cleaner / Caretaker / Storeman

£15500 - £17680 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A position has become available...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Sales - SaaS B2B

£60000 - £120000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This conference call startup i...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital and print design a...

Day In a Page

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen
Secrets of comedy couples: What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?

Secrets of comedy couples

What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?
Satya Nadella: As Windows 10 is launched can he return Microsoft to its former glory?

Satya Nadella: The man to clean up for Windows?

While Microsoft's founders spend their billions, the once-invincible tech company's new boss is trying to save it
The best swimwear for men: From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer

The best swimwear for men

From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer
Mark Hix recipes: Our chef tries his hand at a spot of summer foraging

Mark Hix goes summer foraging

 A dinner party doesn't have to mean a trip to the supermarket
Ashes 2015: With an audacious flourish, home hero Ian Bell ends all debate

With an audacious flourish, the home hero ends all debate

Ian Bell advances to Trent Bridge next week almost as undroppable as Alastair Cook and Joe Root, a cornerstone of England's new thinking, says Kevin Garside
Aaron Ramsey interview: Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season

Aaron Ramsey interview

Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season
Community Shield: Arsene Wenger needs to strike first blow in rivalry with Jose Mourinho

Community Shield gives Wenger chance to strike first blow in rivalry with Mourinho

As long as the Arsenal manager's run of games without a win over his Chelsea counterpart continues it will continue to dominate the narrative around the two men
The unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth - and what it says about English life

Unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth

Bournemouth’s elevation to football’s top tier is one of the most improbable of recent times. But it’s illustrative of deeper and wider changes in English life
A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms