Knights Bannister and Redgrave 'honoured' to carry Olympic torch in Henley
12:35 GMT, 10 July 2012
Athletics legend Sir Roger Bannister
returned to the site of his greatest sporting achievement as he started
Tuesday's journey of the Olympic flame.
Sir Roger was joined by London 2012
chairman Lord Coe at the Iffley Road track in Oxford to begin day 53 of
the torch's journey.
Flame on: Sebastian Coe, left, chairman of the London 2012 Organizing Committee, and Sir Roger Bannister
At the track – now renamed in honour of the famous middle distance runner – the athlete broke the magical four-minute mile barrier on a balmy evening on May 6, 1954.
Sir Roger said: 'It's an honour to be included in a list of torch carriers which has included injured soldiers back from Afghanistan and other places, and I'm glad that it's taking place on this track in Oxford where I ran the four-minute mile in 1954.
'It brings back happy memories and it also brings back some remembering of the weather. Today it looks like it might rain and that day the weather was so bad that I nearly decided not to attempt it.
Then and nopw: Bannister breaks the four-minute mile (left) and carrying the torch
'In retrospect I'm glad because if I hadn't attempted it that day I might not have had another chance.
'In a way I'm back in the sport that I belong to. I spent 10 years training before I broke the four-minute mile. I send my best wishes to all those who are training now and are competing in the Olympics in London.'
Lord Coe said: 'It's very special. Roger has done so much inside British sport.
'Breaking the four-minute mile as a mark of athletic achievement sits central in the history of our sport. He paved the way for what we did in the late 70s and early 80s.'
Hundreds of people watched as 83-year-old Sir Roger carried the flame along the athletics track before handing the torch to student Nicola /07/10/article-0-14009957000005DC-378_634x327.jpg” width=”634″ height=”327″ alt=”All aboard: Sir Steve Redgrave carries the Olympic Flame on a boat on the River Thames” class=”blkBorder” />
All aboard: Sir Steve Redgrave carries the Olympic Flame on a boat on the River Thames
The 25-year-old, from Oxford, was chosen to carry the torch after launching Student Run Self Help – a voluntary organisation which provides self-help groups across the country for people with eating disorders.
Nicola, who is studying for a doctorate in experimental psychology at Brasenose College, has raised more than 60,000 for the programme since it began in 2009. A host of sporting celebrities will carry the flame today as it travels 87 miles and is transported by 111 torch bearers in total.
Later, the torch was carried on a rowing boat along the River Thames by Olympian Sir Steve Redgrave.
Sir Steve, a five-times Olympic rowing gold medallist, travelled through Henley-on-Thames in an eight-man boat using an oar with one hand.
Flaming cheek: A streaker was arrested during the torch relay
He exchanged the Olympic flame with the previous torchbearer as he sat in the slimline vessel and then, with seven other rowers and a cox, set off on a circuit of the riverbank.
In the background was the River and Rowing Museum where the boat Sir Steve used to win his fifth gold medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics is on permanent display.
With an oar in his right hand and the Olympic torch in his left he was able to keep up with the sedate pace that allowed the thousands of spectators lining the route to glimpse the flame and cheer him on.
Pleasure cruisers moored along the banks were filled with clapping and screaming crowds and a bridge was also packed with well-wishers.
Sir Steve's route took him over part of the rowing course of the 1908 and 1948 Olympics, which staged events at Henley.
The boat stopped at the Leander Club, a prestigious rowing club in Henley whose members have won 99 Olympic medals over the decades.
Once he had his feet on dry land, Sir Steve set off on a brief run to hand the flame on to the next torchbearer.
He said: 'To have my hands on the torch is pretty special.
'It's surreal – when I retired in 2000 I was asked to come on to the bid team.
'What we were working towards were the Games in 2012 and now it's just 18 days away.'
The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh will watch the final handover of the torch at Windsor Castle.