For some, the Olympic Torch Relay doesn't mean a thing. For others, it’s a flag-waving warm up of patriotism for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee - enjoyable enough, but little more than an excuse to buy the Union Jack bunting a few weeks early. I fit into a third category, as I hope the majority of this nation resides: I am fiercely proud of all things London 2012. The Torch Relay is a truly remarkable Olympic tradition that can be embraced by all corners of the United Kingdom. Regretfully, I lacked the foresight to book the morning off work when the flame passed through Gloucester last Thursday. It’s undoubtedly a once-in-a-lifetime spectacle, and though I missed it, I’m glad that thousands of my county’s compatriots did not.
|A polite reminder to cyclists like myself to move 'em or lose 'em.|
Pre-empting the bitter taste of hindsight, I rode into Gloucester the day before to get a sense of the mounting anticipation. Aside from the signs in the pictures (left, below), any indication of preparations were few and far between. The ones I saw were subtle: Ye Olde Restaurant & Fish Shoppe looked newer. It had either been given a fresh lick of paint or the warmer climes were doing wonders with it (the sun was bouncing off its white walls rather splendidly). Meanwhile, across from the Beatrix Potter shop on College Court, a man was carefully arranging some flowers so as to make the city’s most picturesque side street just that little more picturesque. I had never been more convinced that this approach to Gloucester Cathedral is as charming as anything the county has to offer.
|A typical sign seen throughout the country to warn motorists of potential delays.|
The walls of Hare Lane’s chip shop and the childhood memories it stoked made this passer-by into a paying customer. Paper-wrapped sausage and chips in hand, I made the short trip to the Cathedral grounds, where I settled to consider the build up to the Olympic Games. I sat quietly, considering with my mouth full.
|Leaving no small town unturned as the torch weaving its way |
through the UK.
A few days previously, I had seen a map of the route the torch would take as it makes its way to the London 2012 opening ceremony on 27th July. I viewed it as an intricate dot-to-dot for a moment or two, trying to make shapes out of its journey across the United Kingdom. The points, like stars, all join to form a fleeting, flame-filled constellation: here today, gone tomorrow - in the most literal sense. While its mapped out route forms little in the way of a picture, it will doubtless leave a very vivid image in the minds of people who will join together to watch it pass.
Reports from the Metropolitan Police said that the Gloucester leg of the Torch Relay was the most well-organised part of their journey they had encountered up until that point. What’s more, Patrick Sheehy’s torch-bearing duties through the city was given the coverage it deserved on BBC Newsbeat’s Oddbox. The 29-year old heel-clicked and strummed his way towards Hartpury, and in doing so created an early highlight of the Torch Relay. Like many of the nominated torchbearers, Patrick has a very touching story, which can be found here.
As you may know from a previous post, I am a big fan of Usain Bolt. Despite winning the Golden Spike meeting in Ostrava last week, Bolt ran a relatively slow 10.04 seconds for 100 metres. Doubts over his form in the build up to London were laid to rest of Thursday when he ran the same distance in 9.76 seconds during Rome's Diamond League event. It's the fastest anyone has ran this year and re-establishes Bolt as the heavy favourite to retain his Olympic title. Watch this space for further Bolt Updates.