My fellow Lib Dem and former Journalism course-mate and long time Football Manager adversary Sean Breslin sent me this earlier today. A guest blog on who he thinks should light the Olympic flame. Not a bad shout Sean, not a bad shout at all…
As the days and weeks pass the excitement and fervour in the country grows before the beginning of the most important summer in Britain’s sporting history. It is not an understatement to suggest London 2012 could be monumental for sport in this country. Put simply heroes will be made, heroes who’s life will change forever and of course the odd villain might appear as well.
But before all the action starts there is the torch relay and this week the street by street route as well as a 7300 strong squad will take the torch around the islands of Britain. One key omission from this announcement was those entrusted with the relay on the final day and the question on everyone’s lips will be just who will light the Olympic Cauldron at the end of the opening ceremony.
There will be a clamour for a long list of Olympic heroes from Sir Steve through to Mary Peters but how about someone who never won an Olympic medal. Possibly the greatest sportsman and advocate of the Olympian spirit of amateur sport Britain has ever produced. Sir Roger Bannister.
Yes he may well be 83 come July but nobody deserves this accolade more than the man who first broke the four minute mile. The first ever recipient of Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the year encapsulates everything good about sport. Here is a man who sums up sport better than anyone else when he said ‘The man who can drive himself further once the effort gets painful is the man who will win’.
A man who finished fourth at the Helsinki Olympics in 1952 (despite setting a British record) is not the distinguished Olympian that normally lights the cauldron. His feat of sporting excellence in 1954 by breaking the four minute mile have been well documented, what is not so well known by the general public is just how great a man he was.
To me his greatest achievement was as chairman of the sports council (now Sport England), under his stewardship local and central government’s involvement in sport grew greatly and the building of all sports facilities grew greatly, giving every Olympian who represents Britain this year the opportunity to train in an environment that allowed them to be the sportsmen and women they are.
This legacy of sporting immortality, a pioneer who initiated the first ever Anabolic steroid testing in sport, a man who’s tenure as head of the sports council will be seen across the nation and I have even mentioned his work as a neurologist, should be rewarded by the country he served so well.
So for me there can only be one man entrusted with the job, so Seb do the right thing and make Britain and the world proud by awarding this honour to Sir Roger Bannister.
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