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Making the torch relay shine brightly

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Carl Doran | 14:45 UK time, Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Exactly one year from today, the Olympic torch will arrive in the UK, signalling the beginning of the official countdown to the London Games.

And to mark 'one year to go' until the torch arrives, two major announcements are being made regarding the evening stops the torch will make during its 70-day journey and the nomination process to decide who will run with it.

There will be extensive coverage across the BBC with details about where the main evening stops will be in your local area, plus details about how you can nominate someone to be a torchbearer.

My three children are obsessed about 'their Daddy' delivering the torch to their local school in Marple, Cheshire, where we live.

As much as I'd love to make my children happy, sadly I don't have the power to decide or have any influence over the route - nobody at the BBC does, it's down to the London 2012 team who have spent a long time planning a very complex operation.

Torch blog

Torchbearers Wang Ning and Colin Giles exchange the flame during the Olympic torch relay in Beijing in 2008. (Getty)

The announcements made today will not actually reveal the full details of the route, but instead concentrate on the final destination the torch will visit each day. There will, however, be more details confirmed in the coming months.

The evening stops are being planned to be extremely exciting and if the recent royal wedding is anything to go by, a terrific opportunity for communities to get involved again!

What the BBC torch relay team is concentrating on is planning the most exciting and ground breaking coverage possible. Coverage-wise, things will have moved on quite dramatically from 1948 when the Games were last in London and we'll reflect that with our extensive operation throughout the dramatic and wonderful 10-week journey.

We'll also involve a wide range of the BBC's best loved programmes and some of our best known faces.

You may have seen our wonderful interviews with some of the torchbearers from the 1948 London Olympics. The significance of their role 63 years ago still lives on in their lives today.

They all still have their treasured torches, which they were allowed to keep as personal mementos of their two-mile leg in the build up to the long-awaited, post-war Games, and they have now become family heirlooms.

Chosen as representatives of their local athletics clubs, they all still share a passion for athletics and some of them are still regularly running and they all believe in the spirit of the Olympic Games.

Back in 1948 there were some rather entertaining criteria surrounding the selection of torchbearers, with torch relay organiser, commander Collins specifying that the first person to carry the torch on British soil should be: "reasonably youthful looking, neither bald, nor too fat."

The 2012 relay promises to be much more inclusive - with up to half the runners young people aged between 12 and 24.

And what can they expect?

Well, in the words of one of those 1948 torchbearers, 81-year-old Charles McIlvenny from Berkshire: "I think it will be run on a different scale to what it was when I ran with it. The ballyhoo will be a lot more. I'm getting on a bit now to do any running but... I realise now I was really lucky to do it. Savour it. You'll never get the honour or chance again. It will live in your memory forever, as it has in mine."

And so say all of us.


  • Comment number 1.

    I would hope that people who havent done anything wrong get the selection...none of the people who have made trouble and reformed.

  • Comment number 2.

    Lancs v Yorks is currently broadcasting your guy's telephone calls whilst rain stops play. Fascinating, but I hope he doesn't mention "bigotted women" in Lancashire! Whilst I'm on, I think it is a tragedy that Sir Seb hasn't included Bebington Oval in the torch parade. a.) because it is alone outside London in having hosted the (1924) Olympics (well, Chariots of Fire); and b.) It needs torching.

  • Comment number 3.

    Paul H, I thought it was Colombes!

    Anyway, who cares! This vast expense will benefit the SE of England and no-one else. By the way, gas anyone made plans in case of Force 8-9 gales stranding said flame in the Utter Hebrides or even worse strands it due Icelandic Ash?

    Maybe they will just have a spare torch and a ronson!!!!!!!!!



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