Olympic torch: Fabrice Muamba jogs with torch

  • 21 July 2012
  • From the section UK

Bolton footballer Fabrice Muamba has carried the Olympic flame as it made its way from Greenwich to Waltham Forest on day 64 of the torch relay.

The 24-year-old had a cardiac arrest in March and collapsed on the pitch during a game against Tottenham.

He has not ruled out a return to football, and jogged with the flame before lighting the evening celebration's cauldron.

An emotional Phillips Idowu earlier carried the torch in Stratford.

The Team GB triple jumper carried the flame a stone's throw from the Olympic Park, and his voice cracked as he told the crowd: "To carry the Olympic torch in my home Games in front of my own people... you guys have done me proud".

Hackney-born Idowu, whose recent form has been in doubt , added: "Hopefully in a couple of weeks' time I can make you guys proud."

Oldest and youngest

Muamba smiled as lit the cauldron at an evening celebration at Chestnuts Field in Waltham Forest.

"What happened to me is a miracle and I thank God that I am alive and able to do this now," he said. "I am just enjoying my life and all of this in Walthamstow today."

After his collapse, it transpired his heart had stopped for more than an hour. He was discharged from hospital on 16 April, having been fitted with an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator.

Saturday was the first day of the torch's week-long tour of London in the final countdown to the Games.

It travelled through five of the six Olympic boroughs as it wended its way from Greenwich to Waltham Forest , going through Newham, Tower Hamlets and Hackney on the way.

The flame's circuit of the capital sees it pass through each of the city's 33 local authority areas and finish at the opening ceremony on 27 July.

The relay's youngest and oldest runners were among the day's 143 torchbearers, who also included rapper Dizzee Rascal.

Image caption Around the world sailor Sir Robin Knox-Johnston carried the flame at the Cutty Sark

The flame started in the sunshine at the Royal Greenwich Observatory, and the first torchbearer of the day was Natasha Sinha, 15, who was nominated for her dedication to swimming and cross country running.

She took the flame through Greenwich Park past large crowds into the London 2012 equestrian arena, before passing it to Ella Statham, also 15, who carried it past the Queen's House and the Old Royal Naval College.

Continuing with the nautical theme, a few minutes later Sir Robin Knox-Johnston - the first person to sail solo non-stop around the world - carried the flame on a lap around the newly-restored Cutty Sark.

Sir Robin founded the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race in 1995 and has been a Cutty Sark Trustee since 2011.

When it arrived in Woolwich, Jaco Van Gass, a soldier with the First Parachute Regiment, carried the flame.

The 25-year-old was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade while serving in Afghanistan, resulting in the loss of his left arm, a collapsed lung, punctured internal organs, loss of muscle and tissue from the upper left thigh, multiple shrapnel wounds and a fractured knee, fibula and tibia.

In 2011, Mr Van Gass was one of four injured servicemen in the Walking With The Wounded team who set a world record by walking to the North Pole.

He took the flame at Woolwich and walked his stint flanked by riders of the King's Troop, Royal Horse Artillery in their ceremonial dress.

Shortly before 10:00 BST legendary gymnast Nadia Comaneci - winner of five Olympic gold medals and the first gymnast to score a perfect 10 - met ex-basketball star John Amaechi on the roof of the North Greenwich Arena, where they exchanged the flame.

Image caption Paloma Faith customised her torchbearer's outfit

Amaechi then stepped off the edge of the roof onto a walkway. The arena is the venue for the London 2012 gymnastics events and basketball finals.

In Newham, British javelin legend Tessa Sanderson-White carried the flame. She won gold at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles and is the only British woman to have done so in an Olympic throwing event.

Hackney-born singer Paloma Faith also carried the flame in the borough, wearing red high heels and having customised her white torchbearer's tracksuit.

Centenarian Fauja Singh also carried his torch in Newham. The 101-year-old started his career as a marathon runner at the age of 89 and has now completed nine marathons.

His personal best time of 5 hours and 40 minutes was set at the 2003 Toronto Waterfront Marathon and is a world record for the over-90s. This year he completed the London Marathon in 7 hours and 49 minutes.

On Saturday afternoon Tahmina Begum carried the flame at Stepney Green Park. The 19-year-old was the first qualified Bangladeshi female football referee and has been officiating local league football matches in east London since 2010.

A visit to Clissold Park followed, and Hackney Town Hall and Leyton Cricket Ground were also on the day's agenda.

On Friday, the flame spent the night at the Tower of London, having arrived in the capital in dramatic fashion at the tower that evening, where it was abseiled from a helicopter by a Royal Marine.

The flame will be carried by a total of 8,000 people during its 8,000 mile, 70-day journey to the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in London on 27 July.