A KU graduate and former Kingston Mayor are to become the torchbearers for the royal borough.
By Simon Manuel
Like most sports fans, former Kingston University student James Spicer has been looking forward to the Olympics.
But even though he is a keen runner and tennis player, James wasn’t actually expecting to take part in London 2012.
So, the official looking letter with the Olympic logo that landed on his doormat a few weeks ago was a bit puzzling.
“A friend nominated me as an Olympic torchbearer but didn’t bother to tell me. When I heard I’d been chosen it came as a total surprise,” said James.
James, 23, who graduated from KU last year with a degree in primary teaching, spent his spare time at local primary schools getting kids off their games consoles and onto the playing fields. His reward is selection as one of 8,000 people carrying the Olympic flame across the UK before the Games start in July.
“I feel elated about it,” said James, who is currently looking for a job as a primary school teacher. “The Olympics coming to London is incredibly exciting. It’s great to be a part of it even if it is just carrying the torch.” James is only running with the flame for about 300 metres but has been upping his gym sessions to get in shape.
“Even though I am running in Redhill, I am so excited about representing Kingston and I want my friends and family to be really proud of me,” he said.
The Olympic torch will arrive in Kingston at the Hook Centre at 8.22 am on Tuesday July 24 and will pass in front of the Penrhyn Road campus before going through the town centre and into Richmond about 90 minutes later.
Kingston’s torchbearers include former Mayor of Kingston Eileen Gray who at the age of 92 will be one of the oldest in the country.
Eileen, who was the first woman President of the British Cycling Federation, is pleased the Olympics are coming to London.
“I hope the Games encourage young people to get involved in sport,” she said.
“It worries me enormously that kids are not getting enough exercise.”
Eileen is also chair of the London Youth Games and her message to KU students is to be more active:
“Sport teaches you discipline and if you give it your all you improve your physical health and get to make friends,” she said.
Other Kingston flame carriers are Josie Inverdale, 20, the daughter of BBC sports presenter John, and 2006 Team GB Winter Olympian Adam Pengilly.
Turn off the TV
James hopes that inspirational torchbearers like Eileen Gray, and the Games themselves, will motivate the next generation of athletes to get off the sofa.
He said: “Kids are full of energy and want to exert themselves,” said James.
“This is a brilliant year to take kids away from the TV, get them playing sport and their hearts racing.”