Q and A with two of Durham’s torch-bearers
Tom Ryder caught up with Kira Roberts, Durham University student and elite fencer, after her stint with the torch…
How did you find carrying the torch, how did you enjoy it?
It was really really cool. Basically, I overslept this morning, and I got a call from the Samsung helper saying ‘Where are you?!’ so I ran out of bed and it was all a bit of a blur for the first hour!
They put us on a bus and showed us highlights from each day of the torch bearing so far, that was great and I had a bit of a cry! And then by the time you get out of the bus you’re just overwhelmed by people handing you their kids and asking you for pictures, it’s just an amazing feeling.
What route did you take?
We went through part of Sherburn for 300 metres, a slow run. I got passed on from a guy called Kieran and passed it onto a trampolinist with Cystic Fibrosis called Paul. I had a good chat to them.
And there were no slip-ups, drops or burnings?!
This morning when I was running to get to the torch meeting point I twisted my ankle again (because I’ve already twisted it last week) so that was pretty bad and I was wondering how well I’d be able to run.
How was the support on the streets?
There were loads of people running alongside it which was pretty cool – the crowds as well as the helpers. There was plenty of support and my mates had a ‘Go Kira Go!’ banner.
They had all the pictures of my missing friends superimposed and held them up too, so everyone who couldn’t be there was there sort of! My grandmother also came fromSingapore so that was really nice.
And how is training and preparation going at the moment?
Unfortunately I didn’t make the Olympic team this time around, so I’m taking a bit of a break and I’ll probably start up again around August. There are nationals in October which I really want to do well in because it’s the first competition after the Olympics where everyone will be on form again. I’ve come second and third in that last year and the year before so it’ll be good to get first this year.
Has the buzz around the Olympics been what you’ve anticipated? Did you feel it when you were carrying the torch?
When I was carrying it not so much, but the build up to it where they show you highlights and things, it was very much a case of ‘Wow’. You get to meet all of the torch bearers as well. The other Durhamstudent Naomi was on there as well so I got to speak to her.
Do you see it as a good advert for Durham and the North East generally, the way the celebrations have gone up here?
It’s definitely helped promote the University because I had a couple of people ask me ‘are you that student from Durham’ and I was like ‘yes!’ So obviously it’s gone well for them. I think it helps promote the area as well, it brings everyone together.
There were loads of parties as well on the sides of the streets which I thought was really nice.
Steph Elliott, Durham University women’s hockey first-team captain and England U21 representative, was also bestowed the honour of carrying the torch. Spencer Brown spoke to her after her once-in-a-lifetime experience…
Where does carrying the torch rank in your sporting achievements so far?
It’s just completely different, on a whole other scale to anything I’ve ever experienced before. I was just very proud to be part of it and lucky enough to have the opportunity.
How did you receive the news that you had been selected?
Gavin Featherstone [head coach of the university hockey set-up] told me that the University had put me forward for it randomly during a team meet in the maiden castle car park, so it came as a bit of a shock.
For how long did you carry the torch for?
I carried it 300m… although it felt like 3 seconds!
Are you looking forward to the 2012 Olympics, and do you have ambitions of competing yourself in an Olympics one day?
Yes it’s really got me up for it, especially since the torch run and I may be there for the hockey final which would be amazing! I don’t really know the odds but I do hope to compete in the future at the Olympics, despite how realistic this achievement actually is.