Tim Koch reports from Henley-on-Thames:
Tuesday 10 July, day fifty-three of the Olympic Torch Relay around the UK, saw the turn of Henley-on-Thames, the town that staged the 1908 and 1948 Olympic Regattas, to host the event. Naturally, the river, rowing and rowers played a big part part and HTBS was there. The morning’s activities started with seven lucky Oxfordshire people carrying ‘their’ torch through the town. The torch itself is not handed on but the flame is. Outside of the River and Rowing Museum the torch held by Sir Steve Redgrave was lit and he then carried it in an eight crewed by two young rowers from each of the three local clubs. They were Maddy Wynn-Jones and James Mills from Henley R.C, Johnny Jackson and Natasha Harris-White from Upper Thames and, from Leander, Oli Collinson and Brendan Edwards. A security man made up the eight – though I am sure that Sir Steve can look after himself. Garry Herbert, the man who steered the Searles to victory in Barcelona in 1992, was the cox. The boat then rowed down through Henley Bridge to Leander where an honour guard of past Leander Olympians saw the torch ashore.
The local newspaper, the Henley Standard rapidly produced a splendid online video of the morning’s events. My only criticism is that they give publicity to another idiot pulling a stunt, here.
The Wokingham Times also produced a nice filmed report, here.
At Leander, a large banner proclaimed ‘99 olympic medals and counting’. In an article in yesterday’s the Guardian, the appropriately named Jon Henley wrote:
“There are entire sporting nations – Brazil, South Africa, Portugal, New Zealand – that cannot boast as many Olympic medals as can the members of this club [Leander]; a staggering 99 of them, including 13 from Beijing alone. And since Leander is supplying nearly half the 48-strong GB rowing squad, 2012 will certainly see the club’s 100th, quite possibly its 110th.”
The Olympic Flame is on a 70-day relay involving 8,000 torchbearers covering 8,000 miles.