Fans cheer Olympic torchbearer Gary Lineker


Click to follow
The Independent Online

The Olympic Torch travelled by train, boat and was even flown briefly into the air by a jetpack today, with former footballer Gary Lineker among the torchbearers as the flame continued its tour of the country.

The former Leicester City footballer, who was among the first of the day's torchbearers, waved to fans who had gathered in his former club's shirt as he carried the torch in his home city.

Ahead of his leg of the relay, the 51-year-old, who only returned from covering Euro 2012 in the Ukraine last night, said: "I've not had much sleep but who cares. I'm looking forward to it. I just hope I don't drop it or do anything silly or singe my ears."

After handing the torch to 30-year-old Matthew Gopsill, from Leicester, Lineker said: "I didn't drop it. I managed to survive all the way and I'm only marginally out of breath so I'm happy."

Speaking after his experience today, torchbearer Mr Gopsill, who has athetoid cerebral palsy and uses a motorised wheelchair controlled by his head movements, said: "It felt really special. I didn't realise Gary could still pass that well!

"I will remember this occasion for a long time."

The torch began day 46 of its 70-day journey by being carried into the air by Jet Pack Man, stuntman Nick Macomber, at the city's National Space Centre before he handed it to the first torchbearer.

Mr Macomber, who had travelled from his home in the US to take part in the celebrations, said: "It was an amazing experience to be here and be part of it all."

The flame left Leicester on its first train journey of the day, travelling to Quorn on the Great Central Railway.

From there it went on to Loughborough, where it visited the Team GB Preparation Camp at Loughborough University.

It continued through Hoton, Wymeswold, Asfordby, home of the pork pie Melton Mowbray, Langham and Oakham before 40-year-old torchbearer Matt Usher, from Wellingborough, carried it down the jetty past cheering crowds, who had gathered at Whitwell Harbour at Rutland Water.

Torchbearer Steve King, who was nominated for his work as a Lincolnshire Integrated Voluntary Emergency Services (LIVES) responder, was driven out to the middle of the reservoir on a motorboat, ready to receive the torch from Mr Usher.

Speaking ahead of the exchange, Mr King, 68, from Lincoln, said: "I'm hoping I don't drop it. I'll never live it down."

But despite heavy rain, the flame was passed between the two boats in the middle of the reservoir in the only boat-to-boat transfer of the torch's route.

The torch was due to continue to Uppingham and Stamford, stopping off at Burghley House, before arriving at the Nene Valley Railway's Wansford Station for its second train journey of the day.

The torch will be transported on board a steam locomotive from Orton Mere station to Peterborough, where it will spend the night.