Sunday 29 July 2012

The Diary of an Epileptic Olympic Torchbearer

I was originally planning to write a post on the day I was due to carry the Olympic flame. But doing that, wouldn't have conveyed well enough my experience of what it was like to carry the most sacred symbol in sport, on it's destination to the London 2012 Olympic stadium, with my torch.

It's difficult to take in the enormity of what I had done on the 26th of July 2012, I was in autopilot. Only after I was able to sit alone, quietly with my torch and reflect on what I had done, am I able to explain how I felt. 

It was truly a day like no other in my life, it felt like 2 days in one. This was in part due to being required to be at my meeting point in Camden at 4:45am, so I had been up since 3:00am running on excitement, adrenaline and pride for the rest of the day. (I had a very early bed time, the night before!) But seeing the sun come up in the morning and people gradually begin to appear to see the flame go through London, was amazing.

One of the most amusing parts of the day was actually, after messing about going to the toilet, I ended up being the last on the bus that would drop us off where we would start our run. Seeing a seat toward the back of the bus, I sat down. As I sat down I turned to my right to chat to who I was sitting with, stunned as I realised it was Sir Clive Woodward!

After getting off the bus at the corner I would pick the flame up from, what hit me, I can't even begin to describe. It was 07:04am in the morning and there was a wall of people cheering, shouting my name.
Actually running with the flame was a bit of a blur. The way I describe it is a blur, but the most incredible blur I've ever experienced in my life.
One thing that caused some confusion amongst those of my friends who watched the coverage on the online BBC feed, was something that I had planned for a while - to dust down the painted bike on the bike lane in my leg. Not as anything meant to be particularly quirky, but just because I wanted to do something that symbolised how important cycling has been in my life.

Watching the ceremony the night after gave me context to the whole event. It was an incredible feeling of belonging to a hugely privileged group of people, who were able to be part of something, much bigger. The communities that supported the flame round the country, the symbolism of what it means, the enormity of being part of an Olympic Games in helping to deliver safely, the flame that would call on athletes around the world to compete in 2012.

People keep asking me if I would sell my torch - the one I know, I carried the Olympic flame with and no-one else.

My answer: Not for all the money on gods earth.

Having something which inspires you to do more, that's 3 sides represents aiming higher, faster, stronger and most importantly, something which I can give to others to hold and hope it inspires them to do the same is just something that money cannot buy.

There is only one way I can describe that day and having my Olympic Torch sitting next to me now. 
- Truly incredible beyond belief.

I did have one major objective however, which I mentioned before. 
- That I would thrust the torch up in the air showing my purple medical band, to make sure people with Epilepsy knew, that I was carrying the flame for them, more than anyone else.

All I can say is, 

- Mission accomplished.

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