Olympic torch, Phillips Idowu to carry flame on first day in London

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Team GB triple jumper Phillips Idowu, former gymnast Nadia Comaneci and ex-basketball star John Amaechi will carry the flame on day 64 of the torch relay between Greenwich and Waltham Forest.

Comaneci and Amaechi will meet on the roof of the North Greenwich Arena.

Pop star Dizzee Rascal and footballer Fabrice Muamba, who suffered a cardiac arrest during an FA Cup match in March, will also carry the flame.

Saturday’s 36-mile relay is the first full day in London.

Highlights included visits to the Cutty Sark and the 2012 Games Equestrian Arena in Greenwich.

The day began at Greenwich Park at 07:22 BST and the first of 143 torches was lit outside the Royal Greenwich Observatory.

Solo sailor
It was carried by 15-year-old Natasha Sinha, who was her nominated for her dedication to swimming and cross country running, and she will take the flame through Greenwich Park into the Games equestrian arena.

There it was passed to another 15-year-old, Ella Statham, who was chosen for her volunteer work with the London Football Association.

Ella’s route took her past Queen’s House and the Old Royal Naval College.

At about 07:43 BST the flame was carried on a lap around the restored Cutty Sark ship, which was one of the last tea clippers to be built and was one of the fastest of its kind.

The torchbearer at the Cutty Sark was Sir Robin Knox-Johnson, who was the first person to sail solo non-stop around the world.

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

Two hours later the relay will arrive at the Woolwich Live Site where Jaco Van Gass, a soldier with the First Parachute Regiment, will carry 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.

Perfect 10
In 2011, Jaco was one of four injured servicemen in the Walking With The Wounded team who set a world record by walking to the North Pole.

At about 09:52 BST legendary gymnast Comaneci – winner of five Olympic gold medals and the first gymnast to score a perfect 10 – will meet ex-basketball star Amaechi on the roof of the North Greenwich Arena, where they will exchange the flame.

The arena is the venue for the London 2012 gymnastics events and basketball finals.

In Newham, British javelin legend Tessa Sanderson-White will carry 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.

Saturday’s relay will also include stints from London’s youngest and oldest torchbearers.

Chester Chambers, 12, was nominated for representing his classmates on the Thomas Tallis School Council, fundraising and helping to develop an anti-bullying campaign. He will carry the flame in Greenwich.

At the other end of the age spectrum, centenarian Fauja Singh will carry 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.

Cardiac arrest
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.

At about 14:20 BST Tahmina Begum will carry 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.

Visits to Clissold Park, Hackney Town Hall and Leyton Cricket Ground will follow before Muamba carries the flame as the last torchbearer of the day.

The 24-year-old was playing for Bolton against Tottenham on 17 March when he had a cardiac arrest and collapsed on the pitch. It was later revealed that his heart stopped beating for more than an hour.

He was discharged from hospital on 16 April, having been fitted with an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator, and has not ruled out the possibility of playing professional football again.

An evening celebration, featuring entertainment from Rizzle Kicks and Twist and Pulse, will be held at Chestnuts Field in Waltham Forest.

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.
BBC © 2012

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