Boris Johnson supports OAP Jack Denness's Olympic Torch bid


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The Independent Online

A pensioner who has run through Death Valley 12 times for charity may yet get the chance to carry the Olympic Torch after his case was highlighted by The Independent.

Jack Denness, 78, from Rochester, Kent, has raised more than £100,000 for good causes on his 155-mile journeys through the hottest place on earth, but had his nomination as a torchbearer rejected by Locog, the committee organising the Games.

But yesterday Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, said he would ask if any "provisions can be made" to insert the dedicated runner into the relay at the last minute.

"I don't know what can be done for Mr Denness at this late stage," Mr Johnson told City Hall, when questioned on the matter by the Conservative assembly member Andrew Boff. "But we should get on to Locog and see if we can find some role or other for people like him."

Mr Boff told the Mayor that Olympic sponsors such as Samsung and Adidas had been allocated places on the relay, which they had used as a "workplace reward scheme" – as revealed by The Independent.

The Mayor's office confirmed it will be speaking to Locog to see if anything can be done. A Locog spokesperson said that if it did hear from the Mayor they would look again at Mr Denness's application.

The torch passes through Rochester on 20 July, the last day of term for children at the school where Mr Denness works as a caretaker.

Mr Denness said the pupils would have been given the morning off to come and watch him run.