LONDON (AP) — Schoolchildren, charity fundraisers, war veterans and a centenarian are among 8,000 people who will carry the Olympic flame in the torch relay for the 2012 London Games.
London Games officials unveiled a street-by-street map of the 8,000-mile (12,875-kilometer) route, which begins at Land’s End — the westernmost tip of England — on May 19 and includes a stop in Dublin, Ireland.
After human rights protests disrupted the international torch route before the 2008 Beijing Games, the International Olympic Committee ruled that torch relays should be confined to host countries. The IOC made an exception for Ireland this year.
Most of the torchbearers are members of the public chosen for embodying community spirit, courage and athletic determination.
The volunteers, who each will cover about 300 yards (meters) include Britain’s oldest full-time firefighter and a soldier who lost three of his limbs in an explosion in Afghanistan.
The youngest is 11, and the oldest is Londoner Diana Gould, who turns 100 on May 23.
“As long as the walk is on the flat I think I’ll be OK,” she told the BBC.
One of the first torchbearers will be Dave Jackson, a volunteer coast guard officer from Cornwall in southwest England.
“I think it’ll be a case of ‘Don’t drop it!’ That’ll be going through my mind quite a bit,” he said. “‘Don’t start any fires.'”
While most torchbearers will walk or run, the flame will also be carried on skates, whizzed on a zip wire off the Tyne Bridge in northeast England and rowed along the River Thames during its 70-day trip.
Olympic organizers said Monday the relay will pass within 10 miles (16 kilometers) of 95 percent of Britain’s population.
Details of the final two days of the torch’s journey — and the names of those who will carry the flame into London’s Olympic Stadium ahead of the July 27-Aug. 12 games — are being kept under wraps.
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Copyright 2012 The National Memo