Flaming Fantastic

Pacemaker Press Belfast 04-06-2012:  Seamus Reynolds, Coach at the Bann Rowing Club, Coleraine pictured with the Olympic Flame during Coleraine's celebrations for the Olympic Torch Relay. 'Picture By: Chris Roberts.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 04-06-2012: Seamus Reynolds, Coach at the Bann Rowing Club, Coleraine pictured with the Olympic Flame during Coleraine's celebrations for the Olympic Torch Relay. 'Picture By: Chris Roberts.

THOUSANDS lined the streets of the borough on Monday as the Olympic Flame reached day 17 of its UK tour.

The famous flame paid a visit to three famous landmarks - Carrick-a-Rede, Giant’s Causeway and Dunluce Castle - before the relay proper started in Coleraine in the afternoon.

The Olympic flame went to the furthest most point on the Giant’s Causeway and was held aloft by Peter Jack who would later be a torchbearer in Coleraine in the afternoon. A crowd of over 1,000 people clapped and cheered.

Peter, a stalwart of Triangle Triathlon Club in Coleraine said: “It was just an amazing feeling standing there on top of the Causeway. What a fantastic crowd and a fantastic day.

“It’s the kind of thing you don’t want to fall on so I was watching my feet and it was so good being able to turn round and wave at the crowd once I made it to the top there.”

Then it was into Coleraine for a very special event indeed - watched by thousands on both sides of the River Bann and on the Bann Bridge.

Head coach of Bann Rowing Club Seamus Reynolds carried the torch on an eight-man coxed rowing boat.

The perfect choice to carry the flame, Seamus has helped some of the young rowers in Bann achieve national and international standard, winning three Ulster championships and Irish championship titles.

A beaming Seamus said: “The response of the people from the town and the surrounding area was brilliant. Both banks of the Bann were crowded with people.

“It was amazing when we pushed out from the jetty, once they started cheering you could hear it echoing into the boat.

“The official that was in front of me in the boat, I think he got a bigger kick out of it than I did.”

Seamus was cheered on by wife Lesley and his daughters who watched from the steps of the boat house while son Shay had to be content watching his dad’s proud moment on the internet from New York.

After Seamus and the flame made it safely onto dry land, the relay set off over the Bann Bridge and up the Castlerock Road onwards towards Articlave.

Adam Hayes was among those who carried the torch in Castlerock.

He survived meningococcal meningitis when he was 18 and since then has raised money for Meningitis Research and also been involved in charity work in Uganda.

The torch then passed to Philip Carson, 22, from Portstewart.

Two years ago, Philip was all set to go to university in Aberdeen when his girlfriend, who was to attend the same university, was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of cancer. Philip opted to stay with his girlfriend and support her through treatment.

From there, Sean McGoldrick finished his leg and the section in Castlerock.

Eoghan Rua’s Sean was the 2011 BBC Northern Ireland Unsung Sporting Hero. He won the award for his coaching over the last 25 years.

Then, mental health nurse, Heather McCarroll, took up the torch.

She is an active fundraiser who has directly raised more than £5,800 for local and national charities; in 2011 running the London marathon, raising £2800 for the Ulster Cancer Foundation, and in 2009 cycling from London to Paris for the MS Trust.

From there it was onto to Bellarena and Limavady and time for the Borough of Coleraine to say goodbye to the Olympic torch relay.

REPORT: UNA CULKIN