The Olympic torch finally came to St Andrews during the early hours of Wednesday morning. The torch arrived to Land’s End on May 19th and 25 days later made it’s way to the streets of St Andrews. It was more than unusual seeing the streets of St Andrews so vibrant and full of life at 6 o’clock in the morning. Cafes and bakeries were open, people carrying flags, music playing, the atmosphere was ripe with excitement. The Olympic torch transformed the town from a dormant state of dullness to a vivacious, cheerful town with students (the few of us that remain) and locals eager and excited to see the epitaph of the Olympics, the torch and its selected bearers.
The event was divided into two parts, the first took place in the Quad and was for those with tickets only (yours truly was without one…) and the second was the actual run around the centre of town. The event inside the closed doors of the Quad consisted of music, cheerleading and general celebration of the Olympics, with the torch on display. The torch left the Quad around 7 o’clock and was carried by the first of the torch bearers, Mark Beaumont (001), the Scottish long-distance cyclist .The streets were packed with people running from North Street to South Street, trying to catch a glimpse of the relay, and the police had a full hand ensuring public safety and order.
The Olympics, at least for me, seemed years away with the Euro 2012 occupying most of my attention and time. However, I was soon overwhelmed by the sheer sense of occasion and thrill that the torch carries. Yes, it may just be a flame on an over-sized candle, but there’s more to it!
I was fortunate enough to be at West Sands with only a small group of journalists and dog-walkers to witness the torch in its full entity.
The Olympic committee had decided to re-enact the iconic scene from Chariots of Fire film where the Olympiad runs on the beach followed by members of the Madras College.
The torch was carried by Joseph Forrester a thirteen year old athlete from the Fife Athletics Club, the same club that produced Olympiad Andrew Lemoncello (as interviewed by our own Sports Editor James Gray).
The event at West Sands was truly remarkable. There was no police limiting your movement, no packed crowds stepping on your toes. There was simply the torch and its bearer along with the film crew and the enthusiastic students of the Madras College. The torch circled the beach for ten to fifteen minutes and it was here that I was truly mesmerised by its presence. This was the torch that was going to open the London 2012 Olympic Games, the torch that represents all the athletes competing in the Olympics and manifests the very spirit of the ancient competition and it was here, on the very beach that I run on, on the beach that represents my home town for the next three years remaining.
Mark Scholey of the crew that runs with the Olympic torch pointed out that the torch will be at Falkirk Wheel by lunch time and arrive to Edinburgh approximately 17.45. The Olympic torch circles within ten miles of 95 per cent of the entire UK population, so if you are in Edinburgh or any of the other towns when the torch is to arrive, be sure not to miss it.