Olympic torch to make Welsh tour for first time

TV presenter Gethin Jones with secondary school pupils from the Bangor area Local secondary school pupils said they were excited the Olympic flame would visit Bangor

The Olympic torch will be carried through Wales for the first time next year, it has been announced.

The torch relay will stop overnight at Cardiff, Swansea, Aberystwyth and Bangor as part of its route around the UK in 2012.

After starting in Land's End, its eighth stop and Welsh debut will be in Cardiff on Friday 25 May, 2012.

About 500 runners will carry the torch on its celebratory route across Wales.

Paralympian Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson called the announcement "really exciting".

Dame Tanni is Britain's most successful Paralympian, with 11 Olympic golds for wheelchair racing, as well as seven golds in World Championships.

She carried the Olympic torch before the 2008 Beijing Paralympics

"It is a moment to shine for those given the honour of carrying the torch," she said.

The exact route of the Welsh leg of the 2012 relay has yet to be confirmed.

Around 8,000 people are needed to carry the torch in all, and nominations opened at 1100 BST on Wednesday.

Dame Tanni said the games were not just for London, and the torch route would take it "within an hour's drive of nearly the whole of the UK".

The Olympic torch has never been on Welsh soil

"The Olympics is the best sporting spectacle on our home soil in our lifetime," she said.

"This country is really good at organising things and the torch is a way that people can get involved," she added.

London 2012 chairman Lord Coe has outlined a UK route of more than 70 stops, including the four in Wales.

Each day the torch is in Wales will end in an evening celebration at its host town or city.

From Cardiff, the 2012 Olympic torch relay will head west to spend the night of Saturday 26 May next year in Swansea.

Start Quote

The Olympics has taken away from sports at grass roots level... money has been spent on the games instead of local clubs”

End Quote Megan Turner Aberystwyth Running Club

Cardiff council leader, Rodney Berman, said the city was looking forward to being "part of something big".

"Cardiff has an important role to play in the 2012 Games as the very first event of the sporting showcase will kick off here with the opening of the football tournament at the Millennium Stadium," he said.

On Sunday 27 May, runners will carry the torch north to Aberystwyth, Ceredigion.

Keith Evans, leader of Ceredigion Council, said he was delighted the torch will stop in the heart of mid Wales.

There was a more cautious welcome from Megan Turner, 15, a member of Aberystwyth Running Club, which trains at a track an hour-and-a-quarter away at Carmarthen.

She said she was quite supportive of the torch visit because of the "glory" it brings to sports.

500 fortunate individuals

But she added: "The Olympics has taken away from sports at grass roots level... money has been spent on the games instead of local clubs."

The final full day of the torch's Wales tour will see it taken to Bangor, Gwynedd, on Monday 28 May.

Arthur Emyr, head of major events with the Welsh Government, described the Olympics as the "biggest event in peacetime in the world".

He said when the torch travels through Wales the atmosphere will be "celebratory, with about 500 fortunate individuals, young people between the ages of 12 and 24 years of age taking part".

On Tuesday 29 May, 2012, torch bearers will run across north Wales as the Olympic flame is carried out of Wales to Chester.

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