Nominations flood in for Olympic flame carriers

OLYMPIC fever is sweeping across Eastbourne and nominations for locals to carry the torch are coming in thick and fast.

Earlier this month The Herald exclusively revealed that the flame would be coming through town on its way to London for the fast-approaching 2012 games.

And since that announcement readers have been busy racking their brains to think of locals who deserve the honour of being torch bearers when the party comes to Eastbourne on July 17.

One of those put forward was Janis Long, who has been with Eastbourne Rovers Athletic Club since the 1960s, as a competitor, coach and also club secretary.

Another Eastbourne Rover, Sue Keen, was also suggested. The keen athletics coach was nominated for her decades of service and her work running Star Tract – a scheme will encourages youngsters to get involved with sport during school holidays.

Marathon runner extraordinaire Neil Kirby was another popular choice. Mr Kirby, who runs the Langham Hotel, has completed more than 150 half marathons in 30 years as well as 15 full marathons – raising more than £240,000 in the process.

David Horne, who is lobbying for Mr Kirby’s inclusion, said, “It would be nice to recognise the work that he has done for charity, he is a well known and well respected local businessman, and as a marathon runner would obviously have no problem whatsoever running with the Olympic flame.”

Lorna Dunbar suggested Paul Teague who has raised thousands of pounds for a host of charities, including the Royal Marsden cancer campaign and Diabetes UK and ran the Great South Run and notoriously tricky Hastings Half Marathon in fancy dress and carrying a collection bucket.

The keen local historian can also trace his family’s links to the local RNLI back to 1881 and his friend Lorna said, “To carry the Olympic flame through Eastbourne would be a great honour to him and a thank you for his charity fundraising.

“To put his own name in Eastbourne’s history would just be amazing.”

And it is not just older locals who have been mooted as potential torch bearers.

Josh Pankurst was nominated by a member of staff at Eastbourne College. The 16-year-old, who attends the school on a scholarship spends almost all his spare time training for his swimming – getting up early each morning and training late into the night, while managing to still achieve the highest standards in his academic subjects.

Peter Fellows said, “He is an inspiration to others in the school that he can achieve so much to such a high standard.

“He has been selected on consecutive years by the British Gifted and Talented programmes to train under their watch and has set his hopes on competing in the 2016 Olympics. So far he is in target to make the standard.

“If he were able to take part in the torch relay, it would be a great honour to him and his family for all his and their efforts, driving him up and down the country most weekends to attend competitions.

“It would also be a real inspiration to the town.”

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