Last weekend saw the Olympic Torch Relay pass through my home town of Leeds, and I was close by the action with my trusty Canon EOS to capture the magic.
First of all, I would like to just point out that I am neither sporty nor a patriotic person at all. In fact, if I hand’t won tickets to the Olympic Men’s Weightlifting competition in August, I would be avoiding London, and the Olympic Games like the plague. However, when I arrived home from my parents last Sunday, there were hoards of people at the end of my street. I had to pop down and see what all the fuss was about. There were literally hundreds of people down both sides of Grove Land in Headlingley, and the road has been shut to traffic.
After I found a “torch ambassador” and asked him about the schedule, I found out that I was standing at the point where the torch is passed from one runner to the next (although it isn’t actually passed, as there are a number of torches, so one runner lights the torch of the next runner) so I was pretty excited about this. First of all, a few police men on motorcycles came past, sounding their horns, waving to the crowd, and generally loving it. They were followed by a number of cheesy sponsorship vehicles, playing loud music and dancing and generally trying to get the crowd excited.
Then the torch relay buses started coming and I got all excited, especially when runner 131 got off one of the buses and was immediately mobbed by fans, all wanted to have their photo taken with the torch and its bearer.
After the photos had been taken, and runner 131 got a lesson from one of the Olympic officials on how to light the torch, we saw the previous runner coming down the lane!
The best moment for me came next, as I stood about 2 feet away from the runners when they switched the flame from torch to torch. And then 131 was off to Potternewton.
At this point, I could have just gone home and unpacked my weekend bag and had a bath, but being a good little photographer, and because I had come over all patriotic, I decided I would try to get in front of the torch and see it again in Harehills, about 5 miles away. First of all I had to rush from the crowds and make it there before the relay. There was just time for a quick vanity shot.
When I got to Harehills, I had beat the relay by quite some time. I wanted to park in my work car park but sadly hadn’t got my keys on me. I was lucky however, because when I got there, my friend was in the car park and let me in! She had decided to watch from one of the first floor windows, to get a better view, so I decided to join her and watched the procession all over again, this time from a new angle and minus the changeover.