Many of Britain’s most celebrated Olympians will feature in the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay after being nominated to carry the Olympic Flame by the British Olympic Association (BOA).
As the host National Olympic Committee of the London 2012 Olympic Games the BOA was invited to nominate 250 individuals to be given the privilege of participating in the Relay throughout the UK.
Included in the list of Olympians put forward by the BOA are 26 of the Team GB 2012 Ambassadors, unveiled in March 2011, who have won 49 Olympic medals, including 25 gold medals among them.
To recognise and celebrate the inspiring talent and achievements of British sportsmen and women the BOA allocated the Olympic National Governing Bodies (NGBs) to approximately 70% of its Torch Relay slots to nominate outstanding British Olympians of the past, present and aspiring athletes of the future.
The BOA also wishes to recognise the devotion and commitment of the thousands of volunteers and staff who work passionately and tirelessly within their sports to support elite athletes and give people of all ages and abilities the opportunity to experience and enjoy sport.
Approximately 17% of the BOA’s nominations have been recommended by their NGB as individuals who have dedicated much of their lives to working in an Olympic sport. Emblematic of the commitment of the volunteer and sport supporter is the vital role played by the parents of athletes. They are often the unsung heroes and the driving force behind so many of our most inspirational Olympians.
In recognition of the important role played by parents, BOA Chairman Colin Moynihan and Chief Executive Andy Hunt introduced Mr. Jim Redmond and Mr. Paul Mears as the first two individuals publically nominated by the BOA to carry the 2012 Olympic Torch. They are pictured in front of the London 1948 Olympic Games cauldron at Wembley Stadium today.
Mr Redmond, father of two-time British Olympian Derek Redmond, along with Paul Mears, the father of British diver and Olympic hopeful Chris Mears, were both formally nominated by BOA Chairman Lord Colin Moynihan and Team GB Chef de Mission Andy Hunt for their dedication and support to their children’s sporting careers.
Mr Redmond famously leapt from the stands during the 400m semi-final at the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games after his son tore a hamstring and was unable to run the remainder of the race. Offering a shoulder of support the two walked around the track allowing Derek to cross the finish line to a standing ovation from 65,000 spectators. Together, they created a moment that is remembered fondly in the hearts of the British public.
Mr Mears has been honoured after maintaining a bedside vigil, together with his wife Katy, in 2009 when his son suffered a serious training accident while competing for Team GB at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival in Sydney. The teenager was put in intensive care and diagnosed with a ruptured spleen which required immediate surgery. Thanks to the support of his parents Chris has made a full recovery and is now aiming for selection to Team GB to compete at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
With 87% of the BOA's slots being nominated by the NGBs, the remaining 13% are individuals who have made a significant contribution to the British Olympic Movement throughout its history.
BOA Chairman Colin Moynihan said:
“As the host National Olympic Committee for London 2012, we are pleased to have been able to give the opportunity to the National Governing Bodies to nominate outstanding individuals to carry the Torch. In keeping with LOCOG’s criteria the nominated individuals are truly inspirational characters who strive to achieve their personal best in their field, whether athletic, voluntary or as parents.
“I am delighted that Jim Redmond and Paul Mears have been nominated as Torchbearers for the London 2012 Torch Relay. The often unsung role that parents play throughout the lives of Olympic athletes in nurturing the values, dedication and commitment needed to become a successful Olympian is invaluable.”
“The fact that we have been able to honour Mr Redmond for the moving way that he supported his son to cross the finish line in 1992, along with Mr Mears who has been there to encourage Chris throughout the highs and lows of his diving career, is a great opportunity to highlight the crucial role played by parents in sport.”
Team GB Chef de Mission and BOA CEO Andy Hunt said:
“The London 2012 Torch Relay is a great opportunity to ignite the Olympic spirit and support for Team GB around the UK. With the Relay visiting more than 1,000 villages, towns and cities everyone will have a chance to feel part of the Olympic Games.
“The London 2012 Games present a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for British Olympic sport. Everyone can play their part by getting involved and getting behind Team GB – Our Greatest Team. With the support of the nation; we are 550 athletes, 60 million strong.”
Paul Mears said:
“I am truly delighted at being nominated to carry the Olympic Flame during the London 2012 Torch Relay. It has been a very long road for our son Chris towards the Olympic Games and as parents we have supported him throughout that journey, right from the age of seven when he first began to dive. Now that he is on the verge of selection for Team GB it is marvellous that I have the opportunity to participate in this once in a lifetime event, a true honour.”
Jim Redmond said:
“I was absolutely thrilled to find out that I had been nominated by the British Olympic Association as a torchbearer for the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay. It truly is a once in a life time opportunity. My son's race will forever be remembered, and while he did not win the gold medal he had dreamed of, he left an indelible mark on the 1992 Games. Hopefully, London 2012 will produce many more inspirational moments that will be remembered for years to come.”