Lighting the Olympic Flame (again)

Growing up I loved the Summer Olympics.

I idolised British athletes like Daley Thompson, Linford Christie, Sir Steve Redgrave and marvelled at the feats of  guys like Michael Johnson and Carl Lewis.

As I have grown older I’ve become a little more cynical about the Olympics as it appears like a money-making machine for those who run it and the companies who wish to sponsor it to enhance their brand.

I was ecstatic when London beat Paris to host the 2012 Games.  For one thing it’s always nice to stick one over the French!

However with the ticketing farce discriminating against a lot of ordinary folks and the “selling” of the games to huge brands had me feeling less than excited about the prospect of the home games.

I was however looking forward to see the Olympic Torch, which is really a once in a lifetime opportunity….. if you are lucky!  The route was due to start on 18th May, covering 1000 town and cities in the UK, with 8000 lucky Torchbearers along the way.

Upon the route being announced I  couldn’t believe it was coming to my home town, not even a 5 minute drive from where I live.

So on Wednesday 18th July 2012 I lined up with the rest for the chance to glimpse the Olympic Torch.

The atmosphere was great and we all had a real good view with the Police and stewards doing a fantastic job.

Living in the South-East of England the route had to come back on itself and the following day I had the chance to catch the Torch again as it was due to be in a small village called Challock, which is 6 miles north of Ashford.

Challock residents really turned out in force!  The village green used as part car park and also attractions like a fairground and a band playing in full swing. Even two hours before the Torch was due to make its way to their small patch of grass in England, the atmosphere was buzzing.

What struck me most though was the fact it was bringing people together. Despite having to attend one my own this day I found myself chatting to several people, mostly residents, and having a good time. Bringing people together is what the Olympics should be about. I found myself a good spot and managed to capture the Olympic “Kiss”, where one Torchbearer passes the flame to the next.

Following the route to the finish was amazing if a little hectic. Folks lining the road literally from the ages of 1-100 were cheering the Torchbearer on, like a crescendo of sound funnelling into the Village.

At the very end of the route the flame gets put back into its holder for safe keeping and the onward journey.

 If you look closely you can see the small flame.

By the end I actually felt exhilarated and I could tell others around me felt the same.  This to me is the “Olympic Spirit.”  Ordinary people brought together to celebrate a momentous occasion. I hope those who see the Torch from here on in and watch the Olympic Games in London get to feel the same way despite the commercialism. I want to watch Usain Bolt and still be wowed the same way I was, when I only 8 years old.

I have a ton of more photos uploaded onto Flickr. Links are below and trust me  they are worth checking out, especially the ones from Charing. Hope you enjoy them as much as me.

ASHFORD http://www.flickr.com/photos/markukleaf/sets/72157630666036204/

CHARING http://www.flickr.com/photos/markukleaf/sets/72157630666314012/

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