Friday 23 March 2018

Sports stars and public to carry Olympic torch

Mark Hilliard and Mark O'Regan

THE identities of Ireland's 40 Olympic torch-bearers will be revealed tomorrow after being vetted by gardai.

The group is set to include a list of sporting stars as well as members of the general public.

Sonia O'Sullivan, Jedward, boxers Michael Carruth and Wayne McCullough, Olympic gold medallist Ronnie Delany and disabled adventurer Mark Pollock are among the names to be confirmed.

Eight-time All-Ireland winning Kilkenny hurler Henry Shefflin as well as Trinity College athletes Natalya Coyle -- likely to participate in the pentathlon at the London games -- and marathon runner Mark Kenneally will also take part.

But the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) has stressed that many of those carrying the torch will not be household names, but rather valued community leaders.

Among them is Joan Freeman of Pieta House, a suicide and self-harm support service, selected as the ESB nominee.

"It's a sign of fearlessness to be involved in the Olympics; you have to have courage and belief, and that is also there when you are dealing with suicide and not being afraid to talk about it and reach out to help people -- this is world recognition of that," said Ms Freeman.

Dublin City Council is also set to announce an unknown candidate as its nominee to carry the torch.


Each of the candidates had to be vetted by gardai before being publicly confirmed, although the OCI said this was common procedure for an event of this scale.

The torch is due to be lit at Olympia in Greece on May 10 before being flown to the UK in an old-fashioned 'miner's lantern', which will allow the same flame to last the 80-day tour before igniting the actual Olympic cauldron in London.

It will arrive in Dublin on June 6, crossing over the border from the North at Carrickarnon, Co Louth, and make its way to the capital by car.

Its journey through the capital will begin at 8am with a presentation to President Michael D Higgins in Howth, at the OCI headquarters.

From there it will be transported by car to Croke Park. Between then and midday, each of the 40 bearers will carry it for a distance of about 300 metres.

Once finished, the torch will make its way back over the border where it will continue a tour of the six counties and go to Scotland for the next leg.

Irish Independent

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