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Interview with an Olympic Torch Bearer

Victoria Ganley from Lincoln had the incredible experience of being an Olympic torch bearer and she kindly came to the Firstaid4sport offices the day after to tell us all about it.

How were you nominated to carry the Olympic Flame? Well, I have Crohn’s disease and my friend CJ nominated me because I have had eleven operations. In June 2009 I was told I could no longer eat solid foods. Not long after that I ran in the Great North Run to raise money for Crohn’s and Colitis UK and, despite the pain because I was poorly, I found I really enjoyed running. So when did you first get into running? My first run was the Great North Run then I stopped because I was too ill, but then in January this year I started getting into it again. I have been trying to get my fitness up again and I am heavier than I was because I am eating properly again. I am enjoying it but I don’t think I am quite ready to be running again to be honest because I am still struggling a bit, I get dehydrated quite a bit. You have done a lot of 10ks lately though haven’t you? Yeah, well Lincoln was my first one, then I did Hull 10k, then I did the Woodhall Spa 10k, then York and then Leeds. And I want to do the Great North Run again this year. I go with my Mum a lot of the time but we just trot along really, but we enjoy it. Tell me more about the work you have done for Charity? They were called the National Association for Crohn’s and Colitis and now they are called Crohn’s and Colitis UK. Me and a lot of members of my family, when they ran the Great North Run as well, raised money for them. They gave us the places for the Great North Run the first time we did it so we had to raise a certain amount the first time. I am not sure how much exactly we have raised in total but it is a few thousand pounds. Its about the exposure too because Crohn’s is not a well know disease. We wear the vests every time we run to help raise awareness.

Take us through what you did on the day you carried the flame? I was up at 5am because we had to meet at a local school at 6.20. I met all the other runners and we exchanged stories on the bus. I met some really lovely people. They were showing videos of all the other events on the bus. We went through a briefing where they explained the “Kiss” which is what they call the passing of the flame and they told us to enjoy it and try to be different. I was dropped off with my unlit torch at my designated starting point to wait for the relay. Lots of sponsor vehicles went past and the supporters were giving me high five’s! Whilst I was waiting people began to ask of they could have their photo with the torch. Even a man from Heart FM ran up to interview me! Then I could see the torch coming. Before I knew it he was passing on the flame and I was being told to start running! Running with it is now a blur, all I remember was running and waving, and doing the odd skip and leap! I remember hearing people clapping and cheering, and I could see all my family running along side me! I turned the corner and saw the next bearer waiting nervously. I passed on the flame and was told id done a ‘great job’ by the police escorts. Before I knew it I was crying! Then I was shown back on to the bus with all the other torch bearers that had just run! The rest of the morning was spent posing for pictures with the lovely great British public who all wanted their chance to see the torch, and I was more than happy to oblige. It was a day I will obviously never forget, it was a pinnacle moment of my life so far, and I am eternally great full to have been given the oppourtunity to run with the Olympic torch. Did you do any training to prepare? No, but when I got the uniform (we got the uniforms 5 days before the event) I tried it on and then rolled up a magazine and went running around the house with it to practice. Did they go through a safety talk? Basically they said don’t hold it near your face else you will end up with no eyebrows. Some of the people there said they would like to go up to their kids with it and so they were just told to hold it near their hands. Did they go through what would happen if you dropped it? Well, they did carry spare torches and lamps on the bus but nobody has dropped it so far. We were delighted to meet Victoria and share her inspiring story. She was clearly proud at being selected to carry the flame. If you would like more information about Crohn’s disease then visit the Crohn’s and Colitis UK website -