Herald Opinion: The torch is coming to town!

SO WE can raise the flags and sound out the anthem. The race to get Eastbourne on to the Olympic podium is won. The torch is coming to town!

Forgive the exuberance but the Herald is as excited to reveal that news today as we hope you will be to read it.

The detail is sketchy because the news was not meant to be officially released until later this month.

But as MP Stephen Lloyd said, “Imagine being a seven-year-old and seeing the Olympic torch. It will be brilliant for the young people.”

Let’s be frank about this. Eastbourne’s original disappointment at not being on the torch route was shared by towns and cities up and down the country. The chosen few were in a minority. In east Sussex, there were to be only Brighton and Hastings.

Local civic leaders and MP Stephen Lloyd promised to do all they could to pull the big prize out of the bag. And hey presto, they have.

There is a strange veil of secrecy around some things Olympic and lest the Town Hall or MP’s office should be accused of leaking the good news ahead of time, we should make clear that the source of our story was neither of them.

Without wishing to sound greedy - no, let’s be greedy! - the real coup now would be to see the torch paraded around as much of the town as possible - and certainly the seafront.

Near neighbour Hastings - which will host an evening torch parade and an overnight stop - is already planning a day of community events and activities which will span all age groups. The excitement across there is tangible.

And so it will be here.

Whatever route the torch takes, schools are likely to feature large and as budding local Olympian Todd Leckie tells us today, seeing the flame up close will have a big impact on our youngsters.

He reveals how he caught the bug and took up the triathlon after watching the 2000 Games on television.

Business, too, needs to get on its starting blocks. The party mood is sure to attract many visitors from out of town and Eastbourne needs to be ready to make the most of the opportunity.

Britain’s Olympic ideal was meant to be about taking the Games out of London and into as many corners of the country as possible.

The torch parade is all about trying to achieve that goal.

And Eastbourne here has a sprinkling of gold that many others would love to get their hands on.