Thousands of cheering students, staff, school children and local people lined the route of the Olympic Torch Relay through campus yesterday as we hosted the start of the Bath leg of its 8,000 mile journey around the UK.
Staff member Fay Hollister was the city’s first Olympic torchbearer, running with the flame past our Sports Training Village and St John’s Field and through to the University entrance, before handing on to the next torchbearer to carry it on towards the city centre.
Fay, from the Department of Mathematical Sciences, was greeted by 5,000 spectators who had gathered in glorious sunshine to enjoy the celebration.
“The experience and feeling of carrying the Olympic torch was unbelievable, and the crowds at the University were amazing,” said Fay. “The whole day far exceeded even my wildest expectations. The people of Bath are so supportive and made the whole event extra special. It’s something I will never forget.”
Students Hanna Wade and Jamie Barrow were also torchbearers in Bath and enjoyed their moments of Olympic history in the city centre, with Jamie receiving the Torch from Bath’s Olympic gold medallist and University ambassador Jason Gardener.
Over 800 children from local schools were part of the crowd that watched the Torch Relay on campus, having taken part in an Ancient Olympics on St John’s Field. The children had created costumes and built chariots at school for a morning of running races, javelin and discuss throwing and chariot racing.
Francesca Hender, aged 10 from King Edward’s School in Bath, said: “I’m really happy to be here and really excited about being in the finals. I’ve seen the Olympic Torch on TV and I feel like I’m really lucky to see it.”
For many of the children it was the culmination of a week of Olympic themed activities and events at school.
Stephen Baddeley, Director of Sport, said: “It was a fantastic day and an opportunity for the University of Bath to celebrate the lead up to the biggest sporting show on earth. We were proud
and exhilarated to have the Olympic Torch on campus.
“It was particularly fitting to see the Torch here given the important role the University has played in helping athletes prepare for Olympic and Paralympic Games past and present.
“It was also great to see so many young people taking part in the Ancient Olympics. It’s an important part of our ethos that we are ‘open to all’, providing opportunities for young people to enjoy our world-leading facilities.”