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

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Sainsbury's could roll the lorries out across its whole fleet if they are successful
tech
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmHe was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
Arts and Entertainment
'Old Fashioned' will be a different kind of love story to '50 Shades'
film
Life and Style
fashionHealth concerns and 'pornified' perceptions have made women more conscious at the beach
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Arts and Entertainment
Smart mover: Peter Bazalgette
filmHow live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
News
i100
News
Prince Harry is clearing enjoying the Commonwealth Games judging by this photo
people(a real one this time)
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Coordinator

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: The Organisation: The Green Recrui...

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

Embedded Linux Engineer

£40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Embedded Sof...

Senior Hardware Design Engineer - Broadcast

£50000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Working for a m...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz