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Olympic torch: Lewis Hamilton to start torch relay

Category: England

Published: 8th Jul 2012 20:24:42

Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton is due to start day 52 of the Olympic flame relay as it travels the 112 miles from Luton to Oxford.

The former world champion will be the first of 133 torchbearers when he sets off in St Georges Square in Luton.

Monday's relay begins just after 06:30 BST and visits the birthplace of the Paralympic Games, Stoke Mandeville, Blenheim Palace and Bletchley Park.

Also carrying the flame is Olympic badminton silver medallist Gail Emms.

Emms, who will carry the flame in Milton Keynes, was runner-up in the mixed doubles with Nathan Robertson in the 2004 Games in Athens. She won gold medals at the 2006 World Championships in Madrid, 2004 European Championships in Geneva and the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester.

Hamilton was initially asked to carry the torch through his home town of Stevenage, but plans were changed as the flame was there while he was competing in Sunday's British Grand Prix at Silverstone, in which he finished eighth.

Jessica Stalley from Bedford, will take the flame into Bletchley Park.

The 16-year-old was nominated for the way she coped with having an operation to straighten her spine and for her aspirations to compete in the Paralympics.

Bletchley Park was the site of Britain's main decryption centre during World War Two and is now home to the National Codes Centre and the National Museum of Computing.

Gemma Collis, 17, from Aylesbury, will carry her torch at Stoke Mandeville Stadium in Aylesbury.

Stoke Mandeville Hospital was the site where pioneering neurologist Professor Sir Ludwig Guttmann staged the forerunner of the Paralympic Games in 1948 - the International Wheelchair Games. The Games were repeated at Stoke Mandeville four years later before the first official Paralympics took place in Rome in 1960.

There will be a separate Paralympic lighting ceremony at the site in Aylesbury, as part of the Paralympic Torch Relay on 28 August.

During the first part of the morning, youth Olympic rowing gold medallist Georgia Howard-Merrill will carry the flame in Milton Keynes. Oxford-based Howard-Merrill won the medal at the first Youth Olympic Games in the Women's Pairs in Singapore in 2010.

Also among Monday's torchbearers is 16-year-old Rebekah Wagnell who won three silver and two gold medals for swimming in the 18th World Transplant Games in 2011. The Milton Keynes teenager was born with chronic renal failure and received a kidney transplant from her father five years ago.

Archer Naomi Folkard, who is competing for Team GB in the Olympics, will carry the flame in Oxford.

After leaving Luton, the flame is due to visit Dunstable, Milton Keynes, Bletchley, Buckingham, Winslow, Whitchurch, Aylesbury, Stoke Mandeville, Waddesdon, Bicester, Kirtlington, Woodstock, Kidlington and Oxford.

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A game of Quidditch, made famous by the Harry Potter stories, is being played in Oxford ahead of the arrival of the flame. Teams from Australia, France and the US are taking part in the two-day tournament.

The final of the event is part of relay celebrations in South Park on Monday where rockers Young Guns and dance act Twist & Pulse will perform.

There will also be a performance of Tree of Light, which is part of the London 2012 Festival featuring 850 participants - including singers, dancers and power-generating cyclists - from school and community groups across Oxfordshire.

The cauldron will be lit by the final torchbearer of the day, former teacher Malcolm Fretter. He has been a paraplegic since 1971 but volunteers at White Horse primary schools. He is also secretary of Oxfordshire Schools' Football Association.

A total of 8,000 people will carry the flame during its 8,000 mile, 70-day journey to the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in London on 27 July.

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BBC News, 2012. Olympic torch: Lewis Hamilton to start torch relay [Online] (Updated 8th Jul 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/1439367/Olympic-torch-Lewis-Hamilton-to-start-torch-relay [Accessed 2nd Sep 2014]

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