UK

London 2012: Backley and Emin join relay in Kent

  • 19 July 2012
  • From the section UK
Media captionTracey Emin stopped to wave at crowds gathered in front of the Turner Contemporary

Triple Olympic medallist Steve Backley and artist Tracy Emin were among the torchbearers on day 62 of the Olympic torch relay from Deal to Maidstone.

Backley, a javelin star at four Games from 1992 to 2004, carried the flame at Ramsgate harbour.

Emin took the torch at the Turner Gallery in Margate, passing it on to former Olympic swimmer Karen Pickering.

Immediately afterwards, Pickering tweeted : "Totally AMAZING experience! Can't describe it. Just buzzing!"

Former number one British tennis player Elena Baltacha - who will represent Team GB at the Games and is currently ranked 100 in the world - carried the flame through St Peters in mid-morning.

Thursday's relay saw the Olympic flame taking in a 65-mile tour of Kent, with an evening celebration at Leeds Castle in Maidstone.

Emin said she had been overwhelmed by one of the more surreal experiences of her life after standing with the toch on the steps of the Turner Contemporary, which is housing her own exhibition She Lay Down Beneath The Sea.

She said: "It's quite overwhelming and it's a long way, I haven't run since about 1978.

"It's like the most surreal dream you can ever imagine. Who would have thought I would be carrying the Olympic torch through Margate to my own art gallery which wasn't even here a year-and-a-half ago."

Image caption Steve Backley won three Olympic medals and appeared at four Games

Asked what she was going to do with her Olympic torch, the 48-year-old said: "I will probably keep it and then when I die I will give it to one of my godchildren."

Backley struck a javelin-throwing pose with his torch as he started his leg at around 10:30 BST.

A former world record-holder, he won two silver medals and a bronze at Olympic Games from 1992-2000 and finished fourth in 2004, during a career that also brought four European and three Commonwealth titles.

Speaking to BBC Kent beforehand, he joked: "There's a few people nervous I'm going to throw the torch, but I promise you I won't even be tempted."

Emin, who carried the flame shortly before 13:00 BST, grew up in Margate and graduated in fine arts from the Maidstone College of Art in 1986.

She was on the short list for the Turner Prize in 1999 and is one of 12 artists who have created posters for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, for display at Tate Britain in London.

Day 62 of the torch relay began at Deal Pier, where volunteer lifeguard Katherine Batts, 52, was the first of 136 torchbearers.

The Olympic flame was carried through the grounds of Canterbury Cathedral before moving on to Maidstone.

Julia Chilcott, a Kent County Council foster carer for more than 20 years, lit the cauldron on stage at the evening celebrations.

Other torchbearers on day 62 included:

  • Charlie Hedges, 25, who presents the Kiss FM breakfast show and is an ambassador for the Prince's Trust, carried the flame in Challock.
  • Mel Moore, 67 from Maidstone, who has run 21 London Marathons in as many years, raising money for the local community.
  • Joseph Smith, who made worldwide news when he became the oldest Briton to swim the English Channel at the age of 65. He is now 78.

The flame passed through Sholden, Sandwich, Great Stonar, Cliffs End, St Lawrence, Broadstairs, Cliftonville, Margate, Westgate-on-Sea, Birchington-on-Sea, Upstreet, Sturry, Thanington, Faversham and Harrietsham.

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.