As the anticipation continues to mount with the Olympic Games now less than two weeks away, the Olympic Flame came to Oxford, where it was greeted by the sporting legend Sir Roger Bannister.
Sir Roger made a few steps down the Iffley Road track on which, 58 years previously, he dismantled the greatest barrier in sport, the four-minute mile. A host of Olympic champions including Sebastian Coe, Jonny Searle and Stephanie Cook, and the Winkelvoss twins (Oxford alumni and disputed Facebook-founders) gathered at the running track, which now bears his name.
“Of course it is an honour to be carrying the torch, but it is an honour for every runner to take part,” Bannister said. “I am only sorry that many of the worthy individuals that have served their country, or their town cannot all be involved. It has been very moving to watch the enthusiasm with which the torch relay has been greeted on its journey.”
The arrival of the torch was occasion for a large party in Oxford’s South Park to celebrate the city’s rich Olympic history. 20,000 local residents braved inclement weather to attend the event. But it was also an opportunity for Harry Potter fans, who staged the world’s first international Quidditch tournament. The two-day tournament was part of Oxford’s Olympic torch relay celebrations, with some players hoping the sport might eventually be played at the Olympics themselves.
Alex Benepe of the International Quidditch Association said, “There are a lot more ridiculous sports in the Olympics right now if you ask me. I think anyone who doubts it should come out and see Quidditch and see how intense it is, it’s a rough sport, it’s an exciting and dynamic sport and I would encourage anyone who has their doubts to come and try it for themselves.”
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