THE OLYMPIC torch is coming to Eastbourne and locals are being told to brace themselves for one of the biggest parties the town has ever seen.
The iconic symbol of the Games will pass through Eastbourne next July – most likely between stopovers in Brighton and nearby Hastings.
An official announcement is not due until later this month.
However, the Herald can exclusively reveal that the torch relay will be coming to town after fierce lobbying from Eastbourne Borough Council and local MP Stephen Lloyd who persuaded the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to bend on its original decision to black-ball the area.
Dovetailing with the IOC’s plan to take the torch to the more deprived parts of the UK, the early route is likely to see the torch paraded through parts of Eastbourne en route to Hastings and 1066 Country.
Mr Lloyd, who paid tribute to the town’s council for its hard-fought campaign to attract the torch, was delighted with the verdict.
He said, “This is great news for the town. It will give all of Eastbourne a real lift.
“It will be brilliant for the young people. Imagine being a seven-year-old and seeing the Olympic torch.
“It is the sort of thing you will still remember when you are 75.”
The Lib Dem said he hoped he could convince the IOC to take the torch down the seafront – a road not among the initial plans – and said that if they could get that stretch included, the town could look forward to a massive event with a carnival atmosphere.
“It would be a chance to celebrate not just the Olympics, but all that is good about Eastbourne,” Mr Lloyd added.
One of the town’s own budding Olympians was just as excited at the prospect.
Todd Leckie, who hopes to compete in London 2012 in the triathlon, said the news was “fantastic”.
He told the Herald, “Hopefully it will shine a light on Eastbourne as a real sporting town.
“It has excellent sporting facilities, clubs and sportsmen and if the torch can open a few people eyes to that it will be great.
“I was inspired to take up the triathlon in 2000 while watching the Olympics on television.
“Hopefully see the torch close-up will have a similar affect on local youngsters.
“The more people that can be encouraged to watch the Games and take up a new sport the better.”
Locals can nominate someone to carry the torch through the town and a host of Eastbourne residents have already had their name put forward.
To nominate someone to carry the torch, visit www.london2012.com or to suggest a worthy local for the honour, send your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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