Olympic torch: PC David Rathband's daughter carries flame blindfolded
- 16 June 2012
- From the section UK
The daughter of PC David Rathband, who was blinded by gunman Raoul Moat, has carried the Olympic torch blindfolded in memory of her late father.
Mia, 13, ran through Whitburn, South Tyneside, in place of her father who was nominated to take part in the relay but died in February.
A torchbearer abseiled down Gateshead's Sage building to start day 29 of the relay which is travelling to Durham.
Distance running legend Haile Gebrselassie also completed a leg.
PC Rathband was shot and blinded by Moat while sitting in a patrol car in Newcastle in 2010.
Despite his disability, he tried to rebuild his life and set up the Blue Lamp Foundation which helps emergency services personnel injured in the line of duty.
On 29 February he was found hanged at his home in Blyth, Northumberland.
Following this Mia asked if she could run in his place.
The 43-year-old officer's widow Kath said: "It was a great honour for David to be nominated as a torchbearer by so many people and to be selected.
"I know he would be very proud to see his Mia carry the torch on his behalf."
Mrs Rathband told Tyne Tees Television the event was "bittersweet".
"It should have been David lifting the Olympic torch but it is a huge honour for Mia," she added.
"It's something that she felt really passionate about. She wanted to do this in honour of her dad."
Following Friday's ride on a zip-wire from the Tyne Bridge, the torch relay continued the theme of unusual methods of travel when it began Saturday's journey shortly after 07:00 BST.
'Walk on water'
Richard Jackson, the first torchbearer of the day, carried the flame as he abseiled off The Sage, an iconic building which is a centre for musical education, performance and conferences, located on the south bank of the River Tyne.
About an hour later, the torch was taken around the athletics track at Gateshead International Stadium - the venue where, in 2006, Jamaican sprinter Asafa Powell equalled his own then-world record of 9.77secs for the 100m.
In South Shields, distance running star Gebrselassie passed the flame to founder of the Great North Run and Olympic 10,000m bronze medallist Brendan Foster.
He then carried the flame to the spot where the famous run ends on the seafront.
After crossing the line Foster said: "It was a memorable moment for the people of South Tyneside, who will savour this occasion for ever."
Meanwhile Gebrselassie said: "The Olympics isn't just about winning medals, it's about people coming together and taking part."
In Sunderland, 1500m Olympic silver medallist and BBC athletics commentator Steve Cram carried the flame into Sunderland's Aquatic Centre where he stood on a boom in the pool.
Speaking after his "walk on water" moment, he said: "The purpose of the torch relay is to take the Olympics past your front door almost.
"It's one way people can get to the Olympics and feel as if they have just about touched it."
He also said he thought Team GB would have its "best Games ever".
Thousands flocked to see the flame as it visited the Angel of the North at about noon.
The Anthony Gormley-designed steel structure, which is 20m (65ft) and has a wing span of 54m (177ft), has stood on a hill on the southern edge of Low Fell since 1998.
The day's 99-mile journey saw the flame passed between 131 torchbearers, as the relay travelled through Gateshead, South Shields, Whitburn, Sunderland, Gateshead: Low Fell, Gateshead: Blaydon, Prudhoe, Stocksfield, Hexham, Riding Mill, Consett, Moorside, Castleside, Tow Law, Esh, Langley Park and ends in Durham.
An evening celebration took place at Durham University Racecourse.
The final leg of the relay was run by BBC presenter Matt Baker, who carried the torch in his home county of Durham.
Baker, who co-hosts The One Show and was the runner-up on Strictly Come Dancing in 2010, lit a cauldron at the racecourse, which will burn throughout the evening.
The event also included performances by indie rock trio Little Comets and the award-winning Deerness Gymnastics Academy.
A total of 8,000 people will carry the flame during its 8,000 mile, 70-day journey to the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in London on 27 July.