Karen Robertson, a palliative care nurse from Corbridge in Northumberland, is a champion fell runner and has been a competitive triathlete for almost 20 years. She recently passed her Level 2 triathlon coaching qualification and regularly volunteers at local sporting events from swimming galas to school sports days.
Speaking before carrying the Flame through Newcastle last Friday (15 June), Karen said: “I feel immensely privileged to be nominated and then chosen for this once in a lifetime opportunity. I can't wait!”
On Saturday (16 June), it was the turn of Garry Walker to carry the Flame through South Shields. Garry only took up triathlon a year or so ago after giving up smoking and adopting a healthier lifestyle. He has since taken part in a number of sprint and Olympic distance triathlons.
Garry is proud of what triathlon has allowed him to achieve, commenting: “Carrying the Olympic Flame as a triathlete gives me an enormous feeling of pride. It just goes to show what hard work and determination can help you achieve. Anyone can do it, and I’m proof of that.”
Sunday (17 June) saw the Torch being carried by Kay Stokes from Stockton-on-Tees, who was described in her nomination as being ‘instrumental in the development of triathlon in the North East’. Kay runs Cleveland Triathlon Club’s junior academy, coaching the children and organising training camps, socials and workshops. She has encouraged more women to take up triathlon in her local area, and helped deliver local Tata Kids of Steel events aimed at encouraging children from all backgrounds to participate in triathlon.
Speaking on Sunday, Kay said: “I feel very honoured and privileged. I’m aware there are many triathletes out there who are just as worthy. I would like to carry the Torch in memory of my nominee, Stuart Swinson, who sadly passed away on 20th March. He will be with me in my thoughts.”
Karen, Garry and Kay are amongst over fifty triathletes chosen to be Torchbearers, representing every level of the sport in the UK from volunteers to elite triathletes. Triathlon’s Torchbearers cover an impressive age range, from 12-year-old Grace Jordan to 91-year-old Arthur Gilbert.
An average of 115 Torchbearers per day will carry the Olympic Flame during its 8,000-mile journey around the UK this summer before it arrives at the Olympic Stadium on 27 July. Its journey will take the Flame to within 10 miles of 95% of the UK population.
The triathlon community will also be looking forward to the triathlon events, which are set to be the most memorable of the London 2012 Olympic Games with the women’s race taking place on Saturday 4 August at 9am and the men’s on Tuesday 7 August at 11:30am. Triathlon will be one of the few free-to-view sports during the London 2012 Olympic Games, with much of Hyde Park open and un-ticketed during the events.
Fans can watch the action at a number of iconic London landmarks including the south side of the Serpentine, The Wellington Arch, and Buckingham Palace, as well as plenty of areas within Hyde Park to view the event. To find out more and start planning your triathlon events visit www.britishtriathlon.org/london-2012