On Thursday (28th June), the Olympic Torch Relay finally passed through Nottingham. I was, rather geekily, way too excited about this. In fact, a month ago on the 29th May I had a moment of madness and thought I’d missed it. Then I remembered it wasn’t arriving until June.
Last week, the usual panic stricken emails flew around the office warning everyone of travel chaos. Everyone just seemed bothered about their journeys to and from work. I was the only one subject to Olympics fever.
I do a kind of reverse commute – I live in the middle of Nottingham and commute three miles out of the city centre to get to work, so to get to the torch meant heading towards home. Anticipating grid lock later in the day, I left work just after 3pm. On my home I passed through the Old Market Square (the scene of the evening’s main evening’s celebrations), all the TV crews were setting up in preparation.
There were plenty of stalls set up, mostly run by the Torch Relay’s three main sponsors, but also this union jack cart.
In the Market Square, there was an awesome atmosphere, I couldn’t believe how many people were out. Loud music, big screens and road closures all added up to a festival atmosphere. I was in the same place to see the Queen on her Jubilee visit a few weeks ago, but there were more people out for the flame. I decided to head up to the Lace Market area for the relay as the route was a lot sparser.
The first police bike to come through stopped for a high five.
The thing that struck me most is the sheer amount of sponsorship surrounding the relay. I’ve been listening to all the coverage on the Chris Moyles show on Radio 1 and have even had a few quick views of the live webcam on the BBC website. Obviously none of this shows or mentions the mass sponsorship convoy that precedes the actual torch relay – we had three huge floats packed with promo guys and gals from the three sponsors pass by us about 10 minutes before the flame. There were promo people walking the route, and it became evident that their main job was to try and get in as many camera shots as possible. I know that none of the relay would be possible without the sponsorship, but it did seem to divert a little away from the real point of it all.
Just before the torchbearer came through the union jack lined route was the biggest police bike convoy.
Finally the torch came through our stretch. A quick look on the extensive BBC torch relay website and I found out that this was 64 year old Barry O’Dowd who set up and runs Bulwell Hall Boxing Club in Nottingham. All his friends and family were stood just to the left of me being interviewed for BBC Radio Nottingham – cheering very loudly, they were clearly very proud.
The flame heads off into the sun towards Old Market Square, where it then got handed over to Torvill and Dean who lit the cauldron which marked the end of day 41.