Sunday 22 April 2018

Olympic flame takes the Tube

David Mercer

THE Olympic flame will ride the London Underground today as it continues its week-long journey through each of the host city's 33 boroughs.

Service operator John Light, 64, will carry the torch along the District line from Wimbledon to Wimbledon Park in the driver's cab of the train, while Olympic rings will adorn the front and first carriage.

Mr Light, who has worked for London Underground since 1963, said: "Transporting the Olympic flame is a once in a lifetime experience. I feel really privileged to have been given this opportunity to be part of the Games in this way.

"I've worked for London Underground for 49 years so to be able to hold the flame on its Tube journey is a huge honour for me and a moment I will treasure for the rest of my life."

Once its tube ride has finished, the torch relay will start its road journey visiting the London boroughs of Kingston-upon-Thames, Richmond-upon-Thames, Hounslow, Hillingdon and Ealing.

The symbolic flame will visit Kew Gardens, Brunel University, Richmond, Ealing's Northala Fields and Walpole Park during day 67 of the relay.

A total of 144 torchbearers, including rower James Cracknell, skeleton racer Adam Pengilly, skier Chemmy Alcott and cyclist Eileen Gray, will carry the flame as it travels 43 miles across the capital.

Double Olympic gold medallist and adventurer Cracknell, 40, collected the torch at the Hook Community Centre in Kingston shortly after 8.20am.

Later Pengilly, who won silver at the 2009 world championships and was elected by his fellow Olympic athletes to the International Olympic Committee Athletes Commission, carried the flame in Kingston.

The flame will also pass the Olympic rings flower display at Kew Gardens before heading to Hounslow high street.

At around 2.30pm, singer Katy B and Grammy and Brit-award winning producer Mark Ronson will carry the flame at Brunel University.

Also running will be 92-year-old Eileen Gray, a former mayor of Kingston who pioneered women's cycling in Great Britain as one of the first three women to cycle for Britain.

At around 6.50pm, the last torchbearer Thomas Thacker, 30, from Southall, will light a celebration cauldron on a stage at Ealing's Walpole Park. The event will include performances from dancers Twist and Pulse and hip hop stars Rizzle Kicks.

Tuesday is the fourth day of the flame's week-long circuit of the capital, during which it will pass through each of the city's 33 local authority areas and finish at the opening ceremony on 27 July.

Yesterday, the Olympic torch visited the fictional London borough of Walford when it appeared in a special live section of BBC soap EastEnders.

The flame was also carried by actor Patrick Stewart and around the hallowed lawns of Wimbledon by Andy Murray and Venus Williams.

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