IT’S been on a relay around Russia in the build-up to the Games – now one of the official Winter Olympic Torches has spent a day in Hartlepool.
Only last week one of the Olympic Torches returned to earth after being sent on its way to space by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
But yesterday, staff and students at Dyke House Sports and Technology College, in Mapleton Road, got the unique opportunity to hold another one of the Torches, number 204 on the current relay ahead of the Games in Sochi, Russia, next year.
And the talented members of the school’s Elite Development Squad took the chance to speak to the Hartlepool man who brought the torch into the school and who knows more than most about the world of elite sport.
Guy Taylor, from Throston, is the national director of Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS), a unique Government backed partnership between talented young athletes, educational institutions and National Governing Bodies of sport.
The current vice-chairman of the International Olympics Committee Athletes Commission, Adam Pengilly, who ran through Saint Petersburg with the torch last month knows Guy well from his previous links with TASS.
So when Guy was allowed the Torch for TASS’s tenth anniversary reception at the Houses of Parliament last week, he took the chance to get in touch with Dyke House Sports and Technology College, to the delight of staff and students.
Danny Evans, the director of the school’s Elite Development Squad which is proving a huge success in its first year, said: “To have the Sochi Winter Olympic Torch in Dyke House is a real coup for the town and the college.
“One of the most pleasing things is that Guy had heard about the scheme here in college which shows how well we are doing.
“It’s not every day you get an official Winter Olympic torch in a school in Hartlepool.”
The members of the Elite Development Squad gathered in the school’s reception for Guy’s arrival, who was met by headboy Mitch Rookes and headgirl Dulcie Rodgers.
Guy then addressed all of the talented young athletes in one of the school’s halls, talking to them about the importance of ensuring they do as well as they can in the classroom as well as on the sports field.
Guy, who jets out to Brazil tomorrow, said: “I had the Torch so I thought it would be nice for local young people to get the opportunity to see it and be photographed with it.”
He told the students: “You are doing two things, combining your sport and education which is very difficult.
“But it’s really good that this school is offering you the opportunities you are getting, so grasp them and make the most of it.”