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Who should light the London 2012 Olympic flame?

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Eleanor Oldroyd Eleanor Oldroyd | 20:30 UK time, Monday, 4 July 2011

What was the first thing that went through your mind when London won the right to host the 2012 Olympics?

Joy at the prospect of the greatest sporting show on earth being held in the UK? Concern at how much it was all going to cost? Or simply, as Paris was also in the running for the Games: "We beat the French!"?

For some, thoughts turned to the opening ceremony and the iconic moment when the cauldron is set ablaze.

And now that London 2012 is just over a year away, we can begin to ask: "Who should light the Olympic flame?"

Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali prepares to light the Olympic flame at Atlanta in 1996. Photo: Getty Images

Some of the great and the good of sport have had this honour bestowed upon them over the years. Helsinki, in 1952, was the first to select a well-known athlete to light the cauldron - nine-time Olympic champion Paavo Nurmi.

Muhammad Ali in Atlanta, 44 years later, continued the tradition of famous Olympians bearing the torch on its final leg.

And who can forget the way Chinese gymnast Li Ning - the winner of six Olympic medals - 'ran' the torch to the top of the stadium in Beijing?

If sporting achievement is the criterion, there's only one candidate for 2012: Britain's five-time Olympic champion, Sir Steve Redgrave.

But Olympic success is only part of the history of lighting the flame.

Take Tokyo in 1964 - Yoshinori Sakai lit the cauldron that Games. Why? Because Sakai was born on the same day that the atom bomb exploded over his native Hiroshima.

And in Montreal in 1976, Stephane Prefontaine and Sandra Henderson were given the honour. Not household names, but two teenagers representing English and French Canada.

By that rationale, perhaps Daley Thompson is the right man for this job. For one thing, he is considered by many to be Britain's greatest-ever athlete, having won two decathlon golds, in 1980 and 1984.

But more than that, it is what Thompson represents to this multi-cultural nation that could make him the ideal candidate. Born to a Nigerian father and Scottish mother, he was raised in London - and couldn't you see him whistling along to the national anthem, as the flames rise high in the cauldron?

Then again, are Daley and Sir Steve still relevant to today's younger generation? At the Millennium Games in Sydney, in a tactical masterstroke, 400 metres runner Cathy Freeman was specifically chosen, so she could get used to being inside the Olympic Stadium. Freeman went from a hopeful to a hero just 10 days later, when, in a flash of green lycra, she became a champion. She remains the only person ever to light the cauldron and win a gold medal in the same Games.

So how about giving a helping hand to some of our current crop of would-be Freemans? Jessica Ennis, Christine Ohuruogu, Rebecca Adlington, Sir Chris Hoy or Tom Daley would all deserve the honour of providing the big moment at the opening ceremony.

Alternatively, what greater seal of approval is there to any Games than that of a Royal? Princess Anne participated in 1976 and she has always been a huge supporter of our Olympians. HRH was a part of the presentation that helped win the bid. And royals have previous form; Crown Prince Haakon of Norway opened the winter version in Lillehammer 17 years ago.

However, does the Princess Royal have that wow factor?

If it is an iconic sportsman you are after, look no further than David Beckham.

Becks appeared alongside Leona Lewis in Beijing, as the Olympic baton was passed from China to Britain, kicking footballs into the crowd. Plus, he has done this sort of this before - he accompanied six-year-old Kirsty Howard on the final leg of the Queen's baton relay at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester nine years ago.

But does Beckham - a footballer - really represent the Olympics?

As the song goes, there is nothing like a Dame - and Kelly Holmes embodies everything the Olympics is about. What more do you need on your CV than two golds at the same Games? In Athens, she was at the peak of physical prowess, but combined a steely determination to finally triumph after many years of adversity - isn't that the Olympic spirit in a nutshell?

Then again, perhaps it does not need to be an Olympian at all.

In Rome, 1960, organisers decided that the last torchbearer would be the winner of a junior cross country race. Giancarlo Peris - ironically an athlete of Greek descent - was the winner of that race and got his place in history.

Channelling the spirit of Peris - if you were watching the coverage of the historic day in Singapore when London won the bid, you will probably recall Amber Charles. She was the 14-year-old basketball player from Newham, who was the face of the bid. If London's Games are truly about youth and legacy, then maybe it should go to her?

However, if Barcelona is anything to go by, it does not necessarily matter who lights the flame, it is the manner in which it is done that is important. Antonio Rebollo was a Paralympic archer who had achieved moderate success over three Games, but once he shot that flaming arrow high into the Spanish sky in 1992, he became an icon.

Using that same idea, what greater way to say "thank you" for all that they do for our country, than to select a representative from the Armed Forces?

Finally, for what the Games could mean to this nation, maybe it should simply be the man who brought the Olympics to the capital? Lord Coe - or just plain old Seb, as he was when he won gold in Moscow and LA - lives and breathes 2012 and few could argue with his relevance.

Organisers face a difficult decision over the coming months. But on London Calling on BBC Radio 5 live Sport on 12 July, we are going to try to help them out a bit. We will attempt to come up with a shortlist of candidates who could light the flame. But we need your help...

Let us have your suggestions below and tune in on 12 July at 2000 BST to hear how your selection gets on.

UPDATE Wed 13 July, 1245 BST:

Thanks for all your responses about who you think should light the Olympic flame in 2012 - on this blog, on twitter and by texting into 5 live sport's London Calling programme.

After getting hundreds of suggestions, our panel of Barry Davis, Matthew Syed, Boyd Hilton and Trevor Nelson managed to draw up a shortlist of six:

David Beckham, Dame Kelly Holmes, Sir Chris Hoy, Tom Daley, Sir Steve Redgrave, Daley Thompson

Now we want you to vote for who you think it should be.

For full details about how you can cast your vote and for full terms and conditions, go to the 5 live website.

Remember, this is just a bit of fun and may have no bearing on who eventually lights the flame - but Lord Coe did say he was listening to the show, so you never know!

Your choice will be announced on 5 live on 27 July, as Britain celebrates one year to go until the start of the London Olympics.


Page 1 of 5

  • Comment number 1.

    Anyone but Torvill and Dean...

  • Comment number 2.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 3.

    I would not be surprised if Jessica Ennis lights the flame.

  • Comment number 4.

    Sir Steve means Sir Matt is often overlooked; Between them, the most successful British Olympians, so maybe them together?

    Christine O is disliked by large amounts of UK sports fans for her discretions with the anti-doping authorities (whatever one believes over her guilt or not, she did say she would quit UK sport if they didn't readmit her and said she would race for another nation), so maybe count her out.

    The Armed Forces should get their moment - marching in the Olympic Flag, a band from the Coldstream Guard or some of 'in stadium' bearers, but the final cauldron lighter (is the cauldron even going to be in the stadium?) should be a famous Olympic Athlete.

  • Comment number 5.

    Anyone but Seb.
    Steve Ovett would be perfect.

  • Comment number 6.

    I think Kelly Holmes is a good shout, multiracial, double Olympic champion, well known and respected etc..

    Think Sir Steve and Daley are tad too old for the current generation to recognise and giving it to Seb Coe would suggest a hint of a 'boys club' mentality and could cause lots of people to get angry etc.. you can almost see the headlines now if he did it after the ticketing fiasco!

    Think giving it to someone whose competing is a big ask as it could distract them or put too big a pressure on them!? If it was then Chris Hoy would be my choice...

    Beckham, agreed he's well known globally, does a lot for charity and so forth but he's a footballer not an Olympian!

    Otherwise the armed forces is a nice idea, maybe a bunch of them could be part of the opening ceremony and do some sort of rope ascent into the cauldron and light it that way, there you go Danny Boyle, problem solved :-)

  • Comment number 7.

    Why not one (or more) of the many servicemen and women who have fought in various wars, including the World Wars.

    They represent the good people in this country who treat our island with respect and want it to stay safe for the rest of us.

  • Comment number 8.

    Whoever gets the honour it won't be a popular choice (probably!). Everyone has their own 'favourite' and rational for choosing the person (or perhaps method!). It won't be the armed forces as has been previously said many, many times, the IOC does not look favourably on the military being involved so you can count that option out.

    I think (and I have no basis for this argument) that it will be a group of people somehow involved and then some type of mechanism. The group of people representing the diversity of London and then an industrial mechanism representing the birthplace of the industrial revolution. I can see Danny Boyle making that work really well and then avoiding the 'wrong choice' of person.

  • Comment number 9.

    Certainly not the poser and male model Buckham or Coe who is culpable for the ticket fiasco. Ohourogus 3 missed drugs and subsequent ban means she could never be considered. I believe Daley Thompson or Steve Ovett would be ideal popular candidates.

  • Comment number 10.

    Ultimately The Olympics are a sporting event so the 'firestarter' should ideally be someone from that realm. The comments about Daley Thompson and Steve Redgrave not being relevant to the 'current' generation make me a little bit sad. Thompson in particular was one of the most exciting, talented, dedicated and charismatic sportsmen that we have ever seen from these islands - there is no one who could embody the Olympic spirit more than him in my view.

    If he is not 'relevant' to younger generations perhaps it is about time he was - he came long before the X-Factor / Reality TV era when talent and hard work alone were a bare minimum needed to acheive success. I suppose if we saw Daley Thompson gurning on Strictly Come Dancing that would make him more of a role model to today's generation?

  • Comment number 11.

    Armed forces is clearly a silly idea as they will have been fighting against some of the competing nations, just because theyre the british armed forces doesn't make them morally better than anyone else.

    For sheer comedy value i'd like to see boris johnson on a penny farthing bike, possibly attempting to do a jump on it

  • Comment number 12.

    At the Manchester Commonwealth Games they had a kind of relay round the track of all the really big names and I think that would be a good idea - a lot of the above mentioned athletes, like Chris Hoy, Jessica Ennis, Daley Thomson, Kelly Holmes, Matt Pincent, Rebecca Addlington (although not Beckham because he has nothing to do with the Olympics). I suspect Tom Daley may be a popular choice, although I think there are plenty other athletes out there who deserve the chance just as much, if not more, than he does. My choice would be Redgrave, just because he is the pinnacle of British sport and an inspiration to every GB athlete competing at those Games.

  • Comment number 13.

    The Armed Forces is a good shout, but it won't happen - too political

    That leaves only two options; Sir Steve, or a member of the public (maybe even somebody that didn't get any tickets in the ballot)

  • Comment number 14.

    Gotta be Boris!

  • Comment number 15.

    Hasn't Coe ruled himself out? Otherwise, it might have been nice to see Coe and Ovett race each other to the flame - first one there lights it.

    Other options - not Olympic-y, but how about Jonny Wilkinson drop-kicking the flame into the cauldron (ideally over the heads of the Australian team), or Kevin Pietersen switch-hitting it?

    More seriously, you mention Princess Anne - wouldn't be surprised if a certain nephew of hers, currently in Canada, was being considered...

  • Comment number 16.

    James Corden, obviously.

  • Comment number 17.

    Whilst the Armed Forces is a lovely idea - not sure how some of the competing teams - say from Iraq or Afghanistan or Libya would feel about that? May cause some discomfort amongt their teams (if they enter any!). We need someone who is an all round athlete and a sporting icon and they dont come any bigger than Sir Ian Botham. Whilst not an Olympian he embodies everything that is Great about Brittain. I can see it now - Beefy running up the steps to light the Flame - would be the publics choice. Failing that then yes - have to go for Boris Johnson.

  • Comment number 18.

    Sir Roger Bannister. It would round out a great life of service.

  • Comment number 19.

    The choice is huge for a deserving torch bearer.
    My personal choice would be Kelly Holmes

  • Comment number 20.

    I would like redgrave to light it.As for not being remembered , he was a champion in 2000 and a 5 time gold medalist ( not to mention a bronze he picked up in 1988 along with his gold). Holmes was a champion in 2004, so hardly that current either.

    Thompson et al will play a part. Remember they have athletes carrying the olympic flag.

    I like Beckham but I hope they would not ask him to do it.

  • Comment number 21.

    A survivor from the 7/7 bombing. It was the day after the announcement that it would be London to host the games.

  • Comment number 22.

    From a football fan's perspective, I believe that Sir Bobby Charlton should be given the honour in lighting the Olympic Flame, based on the fact that, after the horrific ordeal that occured in Munich, he went on to become possibly the best football England has ever produced, with this accolade being supported by him being a key part of the only England team ever to win the World Cup in 1966. I also believe that Sir Bobby should get it not just for his footballing career, however also for the work he has done ever since hanging his boots up, with regards to charity work and the development of youth systems in Manchester. I cannot see a more fitting person than Sir Bobby for the task, unless we give it to the Mayor of London himself, Boris Johnson the lid.

  • Comment number 23.

    Pippa Middleton in lycra!

  • Comment number 24.

    Sir Roger Bannister is a great shout! One of the truly great iconic sporting moments!

  • Comment number 25.

    I like many if not all your suggestions plus if you wanted to emulate barcellona how about Fatima Whitbread or Tessa Sanderson? I am glad however that you finally came up with the only possible suggestion! If he was willing to switch the Saville Row suit for his old athletic gear what could possibly be more emotional than the sight of Seb Coe (Lord Coe I should say) running up to light the flame - the mere thought of it has me "welling up" , the sight should give the whole nation a lift!

  • Comment number 26.

    Got to be DAVID HAYE. He can sell it back to us on pay per view.

  • Comment number 27.

    Amir Khan and Tanny Gray Thompson together.

  • Comment number 28.

    To fulfil Britains love of celebrity, Katy Price would be a tremendous choice.

  • Comment number 29.

    Daley Thompson. He could run the first 800m, then pole vault onto the steps. He can hurdle his way to the top, then throw the torch like a javelin to light the flame.

  • Comment number 30.

    Sir Bobby Charlton is the most iconic and significant English sportsman of all time. He is the best man for the job and most deserving of the honour. Does anybody think that in 2016 in Rio it will not be Pele that lights the flame?

  • Comment number 31.

    A Gold medalist from the 1948 Olympics

  • Comment number 32.

    Going on the great success our cyclist had in China wouldn't it be great to see them riding around the stadium before they ride upto where ever the torch is to be lit and hey presto jump over and light the flame

  • Comment number 33.

    Why don't we have a ballot? it worked well for the tickets.. eh? Oh

  • Comment number 34.

    Rongunn firstly , this is a British olympics. Secondly if Charlton is so iconic how come Daley Thompson was voted by the British puiblic as our best ever sports star , albeit that the vote occurred before redgrave got his 5th Gold. Thirdly, wha link does charlton hae to the Olympics. Pele is a brazillian ambassador for many sports not just football.

  • Comment number 35.

    Bobby Charlton would not make it up the steps, besides he is associated with Man Utd, it has got to be someone with universal appeal.

  • Comment number 36.

    Whomever the choose, it is normally kept as a secret , though it leaks. Ali @ atalanta and freeman in Sydney were iconic moments.

  • Comment number 37.

    I reckon we could save a few bob and get a foreign worker in to do it for us. Either that or some Chav lads.

    nothing says Britain like Chavs and Immigration.

  • Comment number 38.

    Kris Akabusi - Awooga!

  • Comment number 39.

    David Attenborough.

    Do it.

  • Comment number 40.

    John Ameche - ticks so many boxes in our politically correct country, and on top of that, he's as globally recognised than most of our olympians (moreso outside of the UK than in). He also does a lot of work with charities and youngsters in this country so I think he's an ideal candidate.

    (for those that may not recognise the name, he's an English former NBA player

  • Comment number 41.

    What about the legend that is Chris Akabusi. Everyone love Chris.

  • Comment number 42.

    Roy 'chubby' Brown!!

  • Comment number 43.

    It has just got to be Sir Steve Redgrave! Five successive Gold medals is absolutely amazing and he has earned the honour.

  • Comment number 44.

    Armed forces is a bad idea. Crass and vulgar. Nothng to do with sport and everything to dio with politics. It's bad enough when they come abseiling off the roof at Twickenham.

    Just get a sports woman/man to do it who was at the top of there game consistently for many years.

    Redgrave springs to mind, but maybe there's someone older who hasn't been recognised enough so far.

  • Comment number 45.

    Agree withthose who say that whilst representatives from the Armed services would be a nice toucch it would likely cause too much controversy. If we're going to have non Olympians then a better choice might be survivors of the July 7th bombings which of course took place the day after London won the bid to stage the games.

    If it's to be an Olympian my personal choice would be Daley Thompson & sod anyone who thinks they're not relevant to modern generations. I don't see that matters - the likes of Jesse Owens, Ali, Mary Peters, David Hemery all competed before my time but I can still admire & marvel at their achievements.

    I would rather not have a current Olympian as I think it would put too much pressure on them. I know Cathy Freeman came through & won but it still heaped far too much pressure on her shoulders. It's why I hope we don't have a face of the Games as it can turn out badly too - I remember the tormented look on Liu Xiang's face when injury thwarted him in Beijing and wouldn't want to put any of our athlete's through that. We have a number of top athletes across different sports so we don't need to single one person out.

    There will also be other honours available to the current olympians. They can run with the torch in their home town on it's route e.g. Tom Daley in Plymouth or Jess Ennis in Sheffield. There will also be a flag bearer in the ceremony itself. This is an honour available at every games of course but it will have particular resonance in a home games. Chris Hoy or Ben Ainslie would be great candidates here as it usually goes to an experienced athlete. There will also be a British athlete taking the oath on behalf of all competing athletes. If Paula Radcliffe competes I think she would be a great candidate as she's been a great campaigner against drug cheats in athletics.

    Whatever happens David Bechham's name should not even be mentioned - that would be an insult to all of our past & present Olympians.

  • Comment number 46.

    I believe it should be Lance Corporal Johnson Gideon Beharry our last recipient of the Victoria Cross.

    He has a multi-cultural heritage, he is a modern figure, he is a real life bonafide hero and it would just be fitting I think. In this country we rightly revere our men & women in uniform and I think it would be right to have them represented in this way.

  • Comment number 47.

    It would be nice to have those who have served the country, their towns, communities etc to give them a chance of representing what is apparantly the greatest show on earth.

    Personally, I'm still getting over the fact that i no only 3 people (and they are friends, friends) who got tickets... Bitter - yes.... Once again and most probably for the rest of my life, Money and power will over throw any genuine support.

    I am very disappointed and will be withdrawing my application for volunteering.

  • Comment number 48.

    Boris Johnson, on a bicycle. Let him finish what he started in inimitable style 4 years ago. A ramp up to the Olympic flame, Boris in an ill fitting suit astride a rusty old Raleigh with a basket on the front. On the very edge of the flame, he wobbles, emits a cry and falls in. The flame erupts, Boris is vapourised and a dodgy brass band strikes up a rousing chorus of "I've got a luvly bunch of coconuts". Pure poetry...

  • Comment number 49.

    Benjy (No3 at 10:11am) writes: ".....I wouldn't be surprised if Jessica lights the flame" - for my money she would light the flame of most chaps - however, it needs to be someone who has made a notable contribution to sport, possibly, but not necessarily the Olympics. My candidate would not be someone from the football world, for obvious reasons, nor from the rugby world.

    I have three possibles. IF he were to win at Wimbledon next year, I'd nominate Andy Murray, otherwise, Amy Williams who made such an impression in the Winter Oympics on her skeleton, and third I'd nominate Ellie Simmonds, the star Paralympic swimmer.

  • Comment number 50.

    Lennox Lewis - Born in London, won a gold medal for Canada, became undisputed Heavyweight Champion representing Britain and known around the world

  • Comment number 51.

    It's got to be Keith Prodigy... He's the firestarter, the twisted firestarter...

    Who else?!!!!

  • Comment number 52.

    Sir Roger Bannister for me. Most famous sportsman the UK has produced imho

  • Comment number 53.

    Certainly not Redgrave, what for Rowing? Might as well give it to Eddie the Eagle or an Archer.

  • Comment number 54.

    Audley Harrison

  • Comment number 55.

    How do you get masses of TV sponsorship deals arranged? By ensuring that everyone will tune into watch a global icon light the torch. Step forward David Beckham.

    How do you make it relevant? By ensuring he plays a key role in the 2012 GB Soccer team.

    Et Voila. Personally, I think it would be a wonderful gesture to give it to Tom Daley, but if people think ti will be anyone but Beckham you are sorely deluded

  • Comment number 56.

    Sir Roger Bannister. Not only did he break one of sport's iconic barriers but he did it with a combination of determination and joy that we don't see much of these days. Then he packed it all in and became a doctor, reminding us all that sport is a just a game!

  • Comment number 57.

    Got some bad news for you all ... it's going to be David Beckham.

  • Comment number 58.

    Should not be Armed Forces - the Olympics are about sport - LC Beharry above is undoubtedly a true hero but he may well have been involved in the killing of people from other nations competing in the Olympics so hardly '5 rings' spirit.

    I could not think of anyone better than Redgrave until someone mentioned Roger Bannister above - is he still in good health?

  • Comment number 59.

    Most people will want to see Jess Ennis light the flame.. After all she lights the flame of most blokes!!..

    But I suggest David Hemery - UKA president & 400H champion from 1968.. Will be good cos Dai Greene will hopefully medal in London

  • Comment number 60.

    Beckham was the most unsuccessful England captain in history, although probably the biggest poser, male model and exhibitionist. He should have Katy Price by his side for the lighting of the torch.

  • Comment number 61.

    At 13:59 5th Jul 2011, Ben Dirs - BBC Sport wrote:

    This comment is awaiting moderation. Explain

    Ha ha Ben,got to satisfy the mods first.

    Anyone with sporting talent and achievement behind them

    So that rules out most of our lot.

    I'd like a medal winner from 1948 as well.
  • Comment number 62.

    Spot on #44 Sorry, but just have to disagree with the people (eg #4, #46) who think it should be someone from the armed forces? What the heck has war got to do with sport? Even if they were linked, people around the world DON'T LIKE our armed forces. This is nothing against individuals in the armed forces, and especially nothing against war veterans, WWII in particular, but a sporting platform is NOT the place to recognise war/ armed forces efforts -they should be kept separate. (To go further, I completely disagree with some of our illegal wars, and think that FA cup finals, Olympics etc should not be used to legitimise war -just cos you like sport (and I love sport) doesn't mean you support a war, the two don't imply one another so why does this happen? And in regards to the olympics, it's not just about us anyway, the whole world will be watching!) It should be someone who has made a long lasting contribution to sport (and someone from a sport where the Olympics is their pinnacle, eg athletics and not football etc) adn who has world-wide acclaim, plenty of good suggestions above though

  • Comment number 63.

    We should get Simon Cowell to Judge people on stage and the public can vote for it and all the money raised from it can be used to fund future para/olympians.

    "I should light the olympic flame because...."

  • Comment number 64.

    Elaine, from TV's people on the toilet.

  • Comment number 65.

    To give it a cultural twist and draw a line straight through the 'who in sport' should do this, how about Ray Winstone, big overcoat, cigarette in mouth, strolls across to the last leg carrier, lights up from the torch flames, climbs the stairs, takes a looonnng pull on his tab and chucks it onto the 'big one'. Walks away...."Sorted, let the games begin!"

  • Comment number 66.

    We already know!
    David Tennant ;)

  • Comment number 67.

    Someone from that "amazing" and "inspirational" Coca-Cola advert. You know, that one where the guy is camping and then runs off with a burning log and carries it on the motorway like its a torch. The Coca-Cola Olympic Flame can be carried by a Coca-Cola "ambassadors" like this one, wearing lots of Coca-Cola branded clothing. The torch should be marked with some kind of branding too, naturally.

    This, after all, is what the McDonalds MasterCard 2012 Coca Cola Olympics are all about. I also hope that there are lots of large, aggressive guys wearing powder blue tracksuits and earpieces that follow the torch around wherever it goes. Just like the Beijing Torch Relay in 2008. That was so nice.

  • Comment number 68.

    I think it should be Daley Thompson or Steve Redgrave. Or how about a sporting youngster from Statford, representing not just the area and the UK, but also the future legacy of the games.

  • Comment number 69.

    maxmerit dont hate the player hate the game son

  • Comment number 70.

    Not really a debate, as decisions go this is an easy one! Whilst all the other serious options above deserve an honourable mention, particularly Daley Thompson; Sir Steve Redgrave has to the light the flame. This is the Olympic Games in Britain and he is Britain's greatest Olympian! Even Simon Cowell would vote for him!

  • Comment number 71.

    Almost all of my choices have already been mentioned, with the exception of one. Derek Redmond. Let him finish what he started in Barcelona with one of the most inspirational things I've ever seen on a track. Either him, or Bryn Parry.

  • Comment number 72.

    @ #55 - are you serious? Do you think the Olympics is going to be difficult to market?

    I'd like to see a sports person for a sporting event. Having chuckled at the (presumably Man Yoo supporting) person who claimed Bobby Charlton as our "greatest and most iconic" sportsman, I think there are a wealth of former Olympians to choose from.

    My one plea would be to please, please not select somebody on the grounds that they are multi-racial or other non-sporting grounds. That would be ridiculous. Select people on the basis of their achievements in and around their sport (by all means including the charity and community work that goes with it) and you will find that there will be people of all kinds of backgrounds.

    My shortlist would be Steve Redgrave, Daley Thompson, Roger Bannister, Coe (although he might be wise to step aside given his involvement) and Ovett, Tanni Grey-Thompson, David Weir, Kelly Holmes.

    I've probably missed a few.

  • Comment number 73.

    The Chuckle Brothers. I can picture it now, "to me to you", Barry Chuckle dropping the Olympic torch, "oh dear oh dear oh dear". I would pay a fortune to watch that, if I could get a ticket that is!

    Seriously though, it's got to be Redgrave.

  • Comment number 74.

    Boris Johnston, you can just see him climbing, no sprinting up the olympic steps with the whole world watching on, makes you feel so proud to be English....brings a lump to my throat... and a tear to my eye.

  • Comment number 75.

    It isn't so much who it should be; there are many many worthy candidates; as who it shouldn't be and it shouldn't be anyone from sports where the Olympics play second or third fiddle, like football, nor should it be anyone overly political and if anyone like this does eventually light the flame, it'll simply prove that Britain is incapable of doing ANYTHING properly

  • Comment number 76.

    @62 You seem really bitter and angry and don't seem to recognise the nature of the games. Johnson Gideon Beharry(my choice) is a modern day inspirational figure with a multicultural heritage it has nothing to do with glorifying war.

    And although it has nothing to do with my suggestion perhaps you should read up on the history of the olympics and some of the events.

    Take the marathon you do know what that is based on don't you? And the ancient olympic games had an event called the Hoplitodromos.

    Wanting someone such as Johnson Gideon Beharry to do it has nothing to do with the Army or War. Your last 3 lines in your comment are the only ones you should've posted. The rest of it is just babbling. Choose someone for who they are, not what they wear if you can't see that then you are missing the point of the Olympics/Sport in general in this modern age.

  • Comment number 77.

    Chris Bonnington to climb the steps. David Attenborough to supply life to the flame.

  • Comment number 78.

    It is preposterous to say you think someone should do it based on racial background. Isn;t that the exact definition of Racist.

    Redgrave and Pinsent for me. by far the greatest embodiment of british sport and success

  • Comment number 79.

    Audley Harrison - Former gold medalist and a credit to the nation.

  • Comment number 80.

    sir steve redgrave should be given the honour as one of your greatest olympians

  • Comment number 81.

    At 13:26 5th Jul 2011, Grampus_2012 wrote:

    Kris Akabusi - Awooga!


    Wasn't John Fashanu the one who used to say awooga?

    I think Kelly Holmes or Steve Redgrave

  • Comment number 82.

    How about Britains oldest Olympian (whoever he/she is)? The Olympic spirit isn't summed up by those that win the most, or are the most popular. Its about:
    - competing to the best of your ability, against the best from other nations; and
    - both recognising and making olympic history

  • Comment number 83.

    It has to be Sir Steve Redgrave. I can't imagine anyone else comes close. Although the organisers will no doubt plump for a David Beckham to get greater international interest.

  • Comment number 84.

    If we can't pick a candidate on the merits of the candidate, let's design a spectacular ceremony that fits around the skills of the person we choose. The Spanish archer would've looked pretty stupid just walking up to the torch and lighting it, for example. It needs to be something that fits British skills, shows off the best of British talent and is a visual spectacle to boot.

    What about building a cycling track around the flame and having the men's pursuit team cycle round with it, peeling off race-style and handing it to each other as they go, until Chris Hoy does a one-lap sprint round the track, grabs it off Wiggins and rides up to the top of the track to light the flame? Gis a job, ceremony designers, I can do that :)

  • Comment number 85.

    Having read through some of the comments Roger Bannister is a good shout too. I'd like to throw Gail Emms into the mix. Gotta love a bit of Badminton. #nobiaswhatsoever

  • Comment number 86.

    If not Redgrave, then they might as well go for a novelty choice.

  • Comment number 87.

    I see the Olympics as passing on the baton from each Games as well as on the athletics track. Therefore my suggestion is to find one of the family from Britain's Gold medallists from the original 1896 Games (John Pius Boland or Lanceston Elliot) and get them to light the flame.

  • Comment number 88.

    Redgrave won five golds in a minority Team sport, Thompsons individual decathlon gold over 10 track and field events way surpasses that, from any perspective.

  • Comment number 89.

    why don't we all pay £100 and buy a ticket. The tickets go into a draw and the winner gets to light it . I'm sure some genius can come up with a transparent flawless plan to ensure this is done in a fair manner?

    seriously got to be Daley T. what a sportsman!

  • Comment number 90.

    I like the Gary Glitter suggestion

  • Comment number 91.

    Margareth Thatcher (if shes still alive at the opening). Definately not a royal or military personnel. If an agrrement is not reached then the honourable mayoral Boris Johnson can certainly do the honours

  • Comment number 92.

    Prince William

  • Comment number 93.

    Steve Redgrave without a doubt. He's our greatest ever Olympian so the honour should be his.

  • Comment number 94.

    Well obviously it should be a person of colour preferably with major non British associations. Otherwise David Beckham or Katie Price.
    What medal did Princess Anne win in 1976 ?

  • Comment number 95.

    Has to be Sir Steve Redgrave or Daley Thompson.

    Would be a huge shame if Beckham or Coe were chosen.

  • Comment number 96.

    I would certainly prefer Pat Butcher over the male model Beckham.

  • Comment number 97.

    Louise Hazel please

  • Comment number 98.

    It should be one of the Great British Public picked via an Olympics themed typically tacky reality TV show hosted by Ant and Dec - or maybe Boris and Seb!

  • Comment number 99.

    I have no problem with Sir Steve Redgrave, Daley Thompson and Dame Kelly Holmes having the job.

    A name not mentioned so far is Ben Ainslie, 3 time gold medalist, hopefully going for his 4th in London (or should that be Weymouth!!). Known amonst his peers as probably one of the best sailors in the world...ever.

    Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson to open the Paralympics.

    Otherwise it's got to be The Pub Landlord, Al Murray. He'll soon put the rest of the world right.

  • Comment number 100.

    Phil 'the Power' Taylor!


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