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The Olympic torch is a symbol of hope, unity, and pride. It began its journey for the London Summer 2012 Olympics at the Temple of Hera in Olympia, Greece on May 10, 2012. From there it traveled to Land’s End, Wales, and on May 19 2012 began its journey across the United Kingdom. It will reach the Olympic Stadium in London on July 27, 2012, when the Olympic Games will begin.
The torch is an exceptionally important world symbol so the 8,000 individuals carrying the torch over its 8,000 mile journey are specifically chosen for their unique backgrounds and national ties.
The BBC monitors the progress of the torch closely and provides maps of the torchbearers’ routes and biographies of the torchbearers themselves. One of these torchbearers is Adrian Derbyshire, a personal trainer who in 2008 was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. Instead of resigning to his fate he joined the Team GB wheelchair fencing team and became an active member in the Warrington Disability Partnership. He and many others have been picked as torchbearers for their unique stories and contributions.
Adrian Derbyshire is not the only disabled individual to be included as a torchbearer. Ricky Furgusson is an Afghanistan War veteran who lost both his legs, his left eye, and fingers from both hands. He carried the torch May 30, 2012 through Chester to Stoke-on-Trent to a cheering crowd and saluting members of the 4th battalion.
The eleventh doctor of the long-running show “Doctor Who,” Matt Smith, also carried the torch on 26 May 2012. He claimed that the honor was so great that he would “do it in his underpants” and admitted that he “would probably get a bigger crowd for that”. His early morning jog through Cardiff drew a large crowd as individuals came to see not only the torch but him. He handed off the torch to 14-year-old swimmer Lilo Roberts, a highly ranked 100m freestyle swimmer.
Having Smith carry the torch has stirred up Whovians everywhere who wish to see the tenth incarnation of the Doctor, David Tennant, carry the torch or light the flame at the very end of the route. In the episode “Fear Her” the Doctor – then played by Tennant – carries the torch the last distance and begins the opening ceremony for the 2012 Olympics.
Sir Chris Bonington was yet another torchbearer who is well-known for mountaineering and has climbed Mt. Everest four times. Bonington brought the torch to the top of Mt. Snowdon – a 1,082m trip above sea level – on 29 May 2012 in a lantern. According to the BBC, Snowdon has great significance for Bonington because it is where he began his mountaineering career sixty-one years ago at the age of eighteen.
A group of four Russian representatives also are taking part as torchbearers. One of these Russians is Vladimir Tolstoy, the great-great-grandson of Leo Tolstoy and Director of the Yasnaya Poliana Museum who carried the torch through Hawarden.
The torch is currently leaving Stafford and will pass through Warrington and Wigan tomorrow.
Image Courtesy of bobchin1941