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Olympic torch team is not so local

First published in Wantage/Grove Herald Series: Photograph of the Author by

JUST 13 of the 50 Oxfordshire torchbearers will carry the Olympic flame through their home town.

The first list of selected flame carriers was revealed this week.

But according to the addresses given by the London Organising Committee Olympic Games (Locog) only one person out of seven Abingdon torchbearers, one out of seven from Kidlington and none of the three carrying the torch through Wallingford are from the towns.

And only 11 out of the 25 running through Oxford are actually from the city.

The majority are from elsewhere in the county, and some 14 Oxfordshire torchbearers are from as far away as Enfield, in North London, South Kensington, and even Las Vegas, in America.

Bob Evans, from Abingdon, said he was baffled by the selection process.

He said: “I was playing golf with a few friends and we were talking about how odd it was. Surely in a town this size there would have been no end of people willing to carry the flame.

“It was supposed to be a community effort.

“I have got nothing against the people that are doing it.

“But I would say having people from outside the area carrying the flame will lessen the chances of people bothering to turn out and watch.”

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Wallingford town clerk Andrew Rogers said: “It’s a bit disappointing that we don’t have any local people carrying the torch.”

But he added: “It will be a fantastic day and I expect about 1,000 people will line the route.”

Locog said it had always been clear that some of the torch bearers would be from overseas and some would be running outside their home town or city.

Spokesman Claire Bishop said the Games are a global event, and added: “A small number of people from the UK have run overseas in every previous relay, and ours is no different in this respect.

“They tend to be grouped together for logistical reasons and each will have a story of personal best or will have made a contribution to their community.”

She added: “Locog has worked hard to ensure people are within an hour of their nomination postcode so friends and family can support them. There will be instances where people are not carrying the flame in their home town as the relay is not going everywhere.

“The slotting process is very complex – we are allocating 8,000 torchbearers to a 300-metre slot on an 8,000-mile route.”

Joe Robinson, 21, from Thame, who will carry the torch through Theale, in Berkshire, said it would have been nice to have run through Oxfordshire.

But he added: “I’m just so happy to be picked, I’d run through Edinburgh if I had to.”

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