thumbnail Staff and students blaze a trail with Olympic Flame

University staff and students are enjoying the experience of a lifetime as they proudly carry the Olympic Torch.

Professor Chris Day, Pro-Vice Chancellor of the Medical Faculty and four students have described the building anticipation as they wait to carry the iconic flame.

Emma Pringle is a second year Natural Sciences student and a talented triple jumper for Gateshead Harriers. She carried the torch in her hometown of Alnwick on Thursday. Emma, who was selected as a torchbearer under the Lloyds TSB Local heroes scheme, said: “It was an amazing experience and I got to run three legs in the end. So I ran with the torch from Alnwick Gardens to the Market Place, my arm was aching by the end. There were thousands of people there to cheer me on, it was brilliant. I have had such a good reaction from people since, as soon as they see the torch they want to have a picture taken with it.”

Professor Day takes part in the relay just after 6pm on Friday. He said: “I feel incredibly lucky as a lifelong Newcastle United supporter, because I’ll be running with the torch at St James’ Park and handing it over to the next runner in the stadium’s tunnel.

“As someone who was born and bred just down the road in Tynemouth and has worked at this University since 1986, this means a great deal to me.”

Town planning student and keen volunteer Amy Priestley will carry the torch from St Andrews Street, in Chinatown, at 6.24pm. She said: “I know that carrying the Olympic Torch will be one of the proudest moments of my life and to find out that I had been selected from a group of people who had all achieved and contributed so much, was a very profound and surreal feeling.”

Biomedical science student Gobinath Murugesapillai will be running from Clayton Street at around 6.35pm. Gobi, who is from Enfield, North London, but originally from Sri Lanka,  acts as a ‘buddy ‘ to help international students settle into life at Newcastle, said: “I am absolutely thrilled and until I actually carry the torch and do my part I don’t think words can describe the excitement.”

Professor Day, Amy and Gobinath, were chosen to carry the torch through a nomination scheme the University ran in conjunction with Samsung to find torchbearers who reflected Newcastle’s core values and heritage.

The last person to take part will be computer science student Will Smith, who will be running on the A167, near Park Lane, in Gateshead, at 7.02am tomorrow. He was nominated to take part in the relay by Badminton UK. 

Will has played para-badminton – badminton for people with disabilities - for the past five years and has enjoyed national and international success in singles and doubles. His right leg was amputated above the knee when he was just 10 years old as a result of cancer.

He said: “The Olympics aren’t likely to come to London again in my lifetime so I feel very privileged to be part of this.”

University Director of Sport Colin Blackburn said: “I am sure they’ll enjoy every minute of their part in this historic relay.”

The Olympic torch relay will take 70 days and will be carried through more than 1,000 towns and cities by 8,000 inspirational torchbearers.

To find out about the route and timings for this historic event see the official North East for 2012 games website


published on: 15th June 2012

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