Olympic Torch Relay
Article by: Kevin CassidyReproduced with permission of the author
Like many, I have been rather cynical of the celebrities and the wealthy treating this relay as their own form of self promotion, not to mention the Sophie Gosper episode that almost went all the way towards ruining its credibility altogether.
Today, Sunday July 30th 2000, saw the torch relay come through the humble Melbourne suburb that has been my home for almost my entire life, I must admit that the days events certainly dulled my cynicism because it was hard not to be touched by the true meaning of the Olympic ideal.
With still over an hour before the torches arrival, the normally quiet deserted Sunday morning streets already had a certain feel about them as, slowly, people started arriving from all over to grab a good vantage spot to view the torch as it headed along Bell Street, Coburg. I had pulled on my running shoes and started to run the 5 km down to Reynards Street where a long time friend in Harold Stevens was to run a 500 metre leg. I have known Harold since 1976 and he has been a top athlete and administrator for all of his 70 plus years. In recent times, Harold has had a tough battle with cancer and chemotherapy has knocked him around considerably. A couple of years ago it was not thought possible that Harold would make it to the relay, but he has proved us all wrong again. Harold would not have missed it for the world and it was all he ever talked about in the lead up.
When I finally arrived to see his run, I could not believe the size of the crowd on the streets, I had no idea that so many people lived in the area. Harold carried the torch to the Reynolds Parade corner to the cheers of the crowd and was swamped by camera wielding reporters as he finished, I am sure there was a tear in his eye as he stood there proudly.
With Harold's leg now finished, I ran further down Bell Street to see ex Olympian, Ray Smith, carry the torch. He looked as excited as a young kid at Christmas. All the time, I could not get over the huge crowd in my own humble suburb, I saw old school friends from 20 years ago standing on the streets. I followed the torch for about another 6 km and saw many torch bearers, most were just average citizens like you and I, what a great way to give the public a close connection to the games.
Pretty soon now, we will all be able to forget about the organisational stuff ups, the ticketing fiasco, the rich people feathering their own nests and corporate sponsors raping the true meaning of the games. In only 6 weeks time, the worlds best athletes will be pushing the limits of their abilities as the whole world watches and applauds........................nothing else will matter!!!!