It’s not often that Cornwall receives international press coverage but the 19th May, 2012 will be a day that many Cornish people and visitors will remember for the rest of their lives.
While this coastal region cannot offer huge stadiums (yet) or Olympic-size swimming pools to host sporting events, the county was lucky enough to be chosen as the starting point of the all-important Olympic Torch Relay.
The night before the relay the golden A319 aircraft, named The Firefly, touched down at the Royal Naval air station in Culdrose, Helston at approximately 7.30pm, bringing a number of VIPs to Cornwall onboard the BA2012 flight.
HRH Princess Anne; the Chairman of Olympic organisers Locog, Lord Coe; London’s Mayor Boris Johnson; and Golden Balls himself, David Beckham, stepped off the shining gold plane onto Cornish soil where they were greeted by a huge crowd of cheering supporters, including the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg.
The plane had arrived from Athens in Greece and onboard was one of the most important passengers that British Airways is likely to transport this year – the Olympic Flame.
This was the first BA flight that was allowed to transport a naked flame and an exception was made for this special torch which had been lit during an impressive ceremony in Greece and was accompanied by three flame understudies during the flight.
The flame was carried off The Firefly by HRH Princess Anne where it was transferred to a London 2012 torch. David Beckham then used the torch to light the cauldron which marked the monumental arrival of the Olympic Torch to the UK and the London Olympics.
So, where better to start this 70-day Olympic relay than at Land’s End on the far south-westerly point of the UK? The flame was transported via a Royal Navy search and rescue helicopter to Land’s End early on Saturday morning where crowds were already out in their hoards to support the local torch bearers.
The torch was lit at 7.07am on Saturday 19th May, 2012 by the three-time Olympic gold medallist, Ben Ainslee (a Cornish boy!) and the first of the UK’s 8,000 torch-bearers.
And so the torch relay began.
But, like so many high-security events, a little drama had to be thrown in to shake things up!
During the relay, a spectator walked out in front of a torch-bearer and was quickly shoved into a bush by the security team who were concerned that he was going to try and grab it. What was he going to do – blow it out?
The convoy of police, security team, Olympic officials and torch-bearers continued on through the streets of Falmouth, Truro and Newquay where I was able to watch and enjoy a (rare) patriotic moment while numerous torch-bearers lit their torches with a proud “kiss”.
The torch has been designed to withstand all weather – rain, snow, sleet, hail, sunshine, gusty winds – but not even this Olympic flame could be protected from our Cornish gales. The flame was blown out in Falmouth and had to be re-lit by security staff. Where were Take That and Lulu when you needed them?
The torch is now making its way through St. Austell and the Eden Project, Bodmin, Liskeard, and Saltash before it goes on perhaps its most important voyage of them all – a trip over the bridge!
Yes, this flaming golden torch that signifies purity will be passing over our very own Tamar Bridge this evening where it will continue its travels across towns, villages and cities throughout the rest of the UK for the next 70 days before making a final stop at the London 2012 Olympics stadium in July. From here, the most anticipated UK sporting event of the decade will be kicking off and the Union Jack flags will continue to wave throughout the “golden” summer. Wishful thinking…..
Did you see the torch on its Cornish travels? Post your comments below or send me your pictures and I’ll add them to this blog!
If the torch is passing near you over the next 70 days, get in touch and share your stories of this historic event!