David Beckham to appear at Olympic Flame handover

 

David Beckham is to make a special guest appearance at the official handover ceremony of the Olympic Flame in Athens and bring it back to Britain for the torch relay.

The LA Galaxy star and former England captain, who was part of London 2012's winning bid team to stage the Games, will meet the official delegation led by British Olympic Association president and London 2012 board member the Princess Royal in Athens.

Beckham will be joined by five young people, from schools and colleges which are part of London 2012's Get Set education network, for tomorrow's handover ceremony at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens.

They have been invited by London 2012 and the British Council as a reward for their commitment to sport and for promoting the Olympic values of friendship, excellence and respect within their school or college.

A mix of some of Britain's hard-working younger generation and a touch of the Beckham stardust is the right way to shine the spotlight on the 70-day relay involving 8,000 torchbearers which will begin after the Olympic flame touches down on home soil, Lord Coe said.

"Working with one of our most inspiring sports people is also fitting for this hugely exciting time for the London 2012 Games," he said.

During the final push of the 2005 bidding campaign, the Leytonstone-born footballer said he was dreaming of the day the Olympics would be staged in his old East End "manor".

He spoke of the potential to inspire and the possible regeneration value of hosting the Games.

Lord Coe said: "We wanted to involve young people from across the UK in bringing home the Olympic Flame.

"Their stories of personal achievement and contribution to sport echo the 8,000 inspiring torchbearer stories that will be shared from this weekend and over the next 10 weeks in the build-up to the start of the Games."

The youngsters, who come from different national regions, are from schools and colleges which are part of London 2012's Get Set education network and school linking programmes run by the British Council.

They include Scottish rugby player Dennis Coles, 17, from Doon Academy, Dalmellington, East Ayrshire, hockey player Chloe Brown, 18, from South Eastern Regional College in Bangor, Northern Ireland, and Swansea Harriers athlete and Mumbles Rangers FC player Sean White, 17, from Bishop Vaughan Catholic School in Swansea.

There are also two 15-year-olds among the group.

Representing Cornwall, where the Olympic Flame arrives and starts its 70-day journey, is Falmouth Ladies hockey player Georgia Higgs from Helston Community College and School Sports Ambassador plus athlete Sakinah Muhammad from Clapton Girls' Academy in Hackney, east London.

Lord Coe, Olympics minister Hugh Robertson and London mayor Boris Johnson are also part of the official delegation to Athens.

The British delegation flies back on Friday evening, landing at RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall, where there will be a special ceremony welcoming the flame.

The relay, covering 8,000 miles, will bring the flame to east London's Olympic Stadium and the opening of the Games on July 27.

PA

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