Olympic Torch Relay Experience


Camera on…check. Camera at-the-ready…check. Oh, she’s here – quick!

On Saturday 14th July 2012, the Isle of Wight welcomed the Olympic Torch onto the island, along the Bournemouth – Southampton leg of the Olympic Torch route. As far as Isle of Wight events go, this one will go down in history. The flame has now travelled via torches for 57 days throughout the UK, reaching as much of the population as possible! Day 70 will see it reach London, for London 2012. There will have been 8000 torch bearers, which by the way is the number of little holes cut in each of the 8000 different torches used along the journey.

Official London 2012 Video Highlights… 

So, what was the Olympic Torch Relay like on the Isle of Wight? Well, I can’t say it was very good Isle of Wight weather. Actually, as it had been raining a lot it was pretty wet! I am sure this may have put off some islanders, who instead opted to watch it on the BBC live Olympic Torch Relay coverage online. However, for tens of thousands of residents and tourists, the rain did not dampen our spirits. Armed with umbrellas and raincoats, the Isle of Wight towns and villages along the Olympic Torch Route came to life with an impressive number of people, who were keen to see the torch and support the Isle of Wight’s torch bearers.

The atmosphere was one of anticipation and excitement, with the good old Union Jack flags waving again… having only just been put away since the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations! Before the torch bearer came into sight, the various sponsorship vans came past, music blaring to get the crowd going and ready for the torch. Knowing that the torch was only a few minutes behind, every police motorbike going by or cheer from the crowd caused a flutter of excitement, prompting people to crane their necks to see if the Olympic Torch was on its way!

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Having listened to the excellent coverage on Isle of Wight Radio, along with keeping an eye on the Isle of Wight County Press Twitter feed throughout the morning, I knew exactly where the torch would be and when, heading off to see the Olympic torch at Osborne House in East Cowes. I decided not to attempt a video this time, having seen the torch on the news and theLondon2012 YouTube channel, I knew how quickly it passes by. A video taken whilst running to catch up, with the camera bouncing around, making you all dizzy and occasionally catching a glimpse of the torch bearer’s back would probably not have been the best viewing. Instead, I braced myself in order to try and (quickly) take some photos for My Guide Isle of Wight on Facebook. Glancing around, I was not the only one at the ready, with camera poised to try and get a good piccy of this once in a lifetime event!

The official London2012 Day 57 Bournemouth to Southampton video…

Standing at the gates to Osborne House, we all heard cheers from the crowd and knew the time had arrived. Camera on… check. Camera at-the-ready… check. Oh, she’s here – quick! Click. Oh blast…

One rubbish photo and she’s gone! However, I am not easily put off. From this point I became one of those people you have seen running along behind the torch, frantically trying to keep up! However, it was fantastic fun and a great place to be running, along the private road of the beautiful gardens of this English Heritage property. Actually, a group of us were following along behind, giggling and cheering, including the very proud friends and family of one of the East Cowes torch bearers who were bursting with pride and supporting her along her way. After a change of torch bearer and ‘the kiss’ of the torches, we were off again. The torch was carried through the grounds of Osborne House, then off again out to the main road.

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The Isle of Wight Olympic Torch experience was exhilarating, a true highlight of the Isle of Wight’s 2012 events calendar. After following three different torch bearers, I unwillingly had to give in to the stich in my chest, also now regretting wearing a very warm water-proof coat on what had turned out to actually be a very mild day. The free beverages that one of the sponsorship vans had handed out earlier were now much appreciated! (Needless to say… I don’t usually run over any distance very often.)

Everyone left with a smile on their faces and feeling like they had been a part of a key world event, something that they are unlikely to see again in their lifetime. One of my favourite moments was seeing a little boy being encouraged by his Mum to hold onto the torch belonging to a very kind torch bearer who had already run. That will be a story to remind him of in the years to come… well done Mum!

Main image by chelmsfordblue