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Carrying the Olympic Flame for SOS Africa - an experience I will never forget, by Matthew Davies
27 Jul 2012
To be chosen as a torchbearer for the 2012 London Olympic Games was a fantastic honour and an experience I’ll never forget. Whilst speaking and meeting some of my fellow torchbearers and talking about their achievements and perseverance through difficult times I must say I felt out of place (but most actually said they felt the same way!), it was a privilege to meet such incredible and inspirational people. I was nominated for the charity work I have done for SOS Africa (among my some of my fundraising events, in 2011 I ran the Snowdonia Marathon a year after completing my Ph.D. in chemistry) and also for my passion for the promotion of science.
I was given the honour of running through the city of Bangor in North Wales on the 28th of May, the city in which I am now based as a post-doctoral researcher. The day itself was an unusually warm with the sunshine adding to the incredible atmosphere and excitement throughout the city.
"I was the first person to run through the city of Bangor, and was given the even greater honour of running two legs with the flame, a total of 600 metres."
When I was first dropped off at the start point, after exchanging inspirational stories with my fellow torchbearers, the crowds were already starting to build; it was a surreal and slightly overwhelming situation, with so many people gathering and asking for photographs. My mother, Julie, my auntie Angela, girlfriend Lisa (the fantastic person that nominated me, giving me the opportunity to run with the flame) and friend Ian had all travelled there to support me; their pride and enjoyment at the occasion made me both happy and quite emotional.
The excitement, atmosphere and number of people continued to grow as the convoy started to pass and travel down towards the city, when the moment finally came; the lantern was taken off the bus and the torch, now my torch, was lit with the Olympic flame. I have to admit at this point I was completely overwhelmed, and all my plans of taking my time and enjoying the moment were replaced with simply being on autopilot. I was amazed at the atmosphere and the number of people that lined the streets; it’s not very often that you get to run down the street with thousands of people cheering you on! The people of Bangor certainly turned up in force and made the experience truly special.
Then as quickly as it began, it was over and after a quick radio interview I was whisked onto another bus to be a part of the convoy through the city, still full of adrenaline, at this point I could relax and soak up the atmosphere slightly more. I have to say everyone involved in the day that helped organise everything; the people at Coca-Cola (through whom I was nominated), the LOCOG, the police and Olympic workers on the buses were extremely friendly and helped make the day extra special.
"It was said this would be our “moment to shine” and it really did feel that way."
Now the relay is almost done, and the games are upon us, it is nice to reflect on a moment that I will really never forget. So many words have been used to describe the feeling of running with the torch; emotional, fantastic, incredible, amazing and overwhelming. The truth is it really was an eclectic mix of emotions. I will always remember the smiles of the crowds, of friends and family, of fellow torchbearers and everyone involved, even the highlights on the news every evening, always filled with smiling people that helped the flame pass around the country, it’s something I am delighted I was involved with. The Olympic torch relay helped make all the communities throughout the UK feel involved in the Olympics, the support it received was unbelievable and it makes me feel proud that so many inspirational people got rewarded for the things they do.
"The whole experience has encouraged me, in all walks of life, to strive to do more and to keep achieving."
I would like to thank everyone involved in SOS Africa, it really is an amazing charity doing fantastic work; I have tried to spread the word about the charity as much as I can by visiting schools with the torch (more stories to follow!) and by running various charity events. I very much feel a part of the charity and will continue to support it as best I can.
SOS Africa would like to thank Matthew and all of his sponsors for all he and they have done for the SOS Africa children. We also hope you all enjoy the magic of the Olympic Games over the coming weeks.
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