Guernsey to host 2012 Olympic torch relay

Olympic flame being carried by Steve Redgrave
Image caption The torch is due to travel more than 8,000 miles before it reaches London the day before the opening ceremony

Guernsey is due to host the Olympic torch on Sunday, 15 July 2012 as it journeys around the British Isles in the run-up to the Games in London.

The Bailiwick has been selected as part of the official Olympic torch relay, which will begin at Land's End, Cornwall, on 19 May 2012.

Mike O'Hara, Culture and Leisure Minister, said: "It's absolutely amazing.

"It's wonderful we've been chosen out of only six islands in the UK."

He said the current plan was to have the relay along St Peter Port's seafront, which could be closed for the event, but this would be decided after a visit by the Olympic organising committee in June.

Deputy O'Hara said: "We'll plan something around that, it'll be a sports day kind of thing and we'll have children coming from not just Guernsey but all the other surrounding islands - Alderney, Sark, Herm - they'll all be part and parcel of this."

Stuart Falla, chairman of the Guernsey Sports Commission, said: "It will mean we're part of the nationwide event that is London 2012 and local people will have a chance to see the Olympic torch.

"It might superficially mean, do I want to go and look at a piece of metal with a flame coming out of it, but it's amazing how it engenders that enthusiasm.

"I was surprised when the Queen's Baton came to Guernsey prior to the Commonwealth Games, and it has done on two occasions, just how much excitement that generated. Well this is a hundredfold beyond that."

He described having the Olympics on the islands' doorstep as "a once in a lifetime opportunity" and said the torch's visit would inspire the island's current sportspeople and those of the future.

Six chosen islands

Lee Merrien, who is looking to secure a place in the GB athletics squad, said: "It's good that Guernsey can be a part of something as massive as the Olympics.

"The opportunity and honour to carry an Olympic torch is something that very few people get to do and less people than compete in the Olympics."

The relay is due to take up to an hour-and-a-half in the morning of 15 July, with surrounding celebrations and events expected to continue through the day.

The torch will travel to the island from Southampton and on to Jersey for the afternoon and Portsmouth the same evening.

More than 8,000 torch bearers are expected to cover about 8,000 miles from Orkney in the north to Jersey in the south.

The six chosen islands were among 74 locations to be revealed a year ahead of the torch's arrival in the British Isles.

Other locations and a more detailed route is due to be announced later in the year with the aim for the torch to be within a one hour journey time of 95% of the UK population.

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