Northern Ireland

NI athlete Katie Kirk speaks about on Olympic torch honour

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Media captionNorthern Ireland's Katie Kirk was one of seven young athletes from across the UK who were given the honour of helping to light the official Olympic cauldron

Katie Kirk, a young athlete from Northern Ireland, has been speaking about the significant role she played in opening the 2012 Olympic Games.

The 18 year old, from Holywood, County Down, was chosen as one of seven young UK athletes to light the flame.

She was part of Britain's 4x400m relay team which won gold in last year's European Athletic Junior Championships.

Katie said her "legs were shaking" as she waited for Sir Steve Redgrave to come into the stadium with the torch.

Image caption Katie Kirk won gold in last year's European Athletic Junior Championships

"We were all just so excited. I could not wait to get out there - the crowd out there was massive," she said.

She was nominated for the role in the £27m ceremony by Northern Ireland gold medalist and Olympic ambassador, Dame Mary Peters.

Runner Katie is a former pupil of Sullivan Upper school in Holywood.

'Secret'

The teenager from the Lagan Valley Club described the honour as the best day of her life but a nerve wracking experience

"It really doesn't feel real at all. I'm looking at myself on tv and thinking; 'There is no way that is me.'

"It was brilliant, hopefully it will feel real at some point.

"Two Thursdays ago my dad got a call. I wasn't in the house and whenever he came back he told me. I was just so shocked. We thought it was a practical joke or someone was trying to wind us up.

"We were told not to say anything, it had to be a secret. They had a whole thing going on about saving the surprise and they wanted to keep it away from the media as much as possible."

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland's Peter and Richard Chambers and Alan Campbell have all qualified for the next stages of their respective men's rowing competitions.

But the competition is over for Belfast's Lisa Kearney after she lost her first fight in women's judo.

Irish boxers John Joe Nevin and Darren O'Neill won their opening bouts. But gymnast Kieran Behan was unable to progress.

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