The day the Olympic Torch Relay came to Maidenhead – 10th July 2012
The signs had been up for weeks and today, after months of waiting and seeing the torch relay on the television, it was finally Maidenhead’s turn to host the Olympic Torch Relay.
The relay was due to pass our house and over recent days we’ve seen dozens of street sweepers drive by outside our house as the council tried to ensure that every part of the route was looking spotless – seemingly forgetful of the fact that the pavements and roads would be lost beneath hundreds of feet!
I had the day off work and we took the two older girls to school – both of whom would be watching the torch go by with their respective schools later on.
Like Jon, I was in two minds where to go to see the flame go by. Get the decision wrong and I’d end up possibly missing out on some photos. I toyed with the idea of watching it in town but decided in the end to view the passing from more or less outside our house. Mum came over too and was able to watch it with us, which was nice.
Judging by the tweets, most people locally had opted to view the torch in the town centre where barriers had been set out to control the crowds.
Many schools had either been given time off or had been taken to allotted places along the route. Today was a moment for all ages to enjoy.
Eventually word came through the torch had arrived in Maidenhead and was now literally just up the road.
We were in position around half an hour before the torch was due to arrive. Amazingly, despite the signs, the road still appeared to be open and a car transporter had an embarrassing time after realising that his vehicle was slightly too tall to pass under the bridge. He had to reverse back up the hill – in front of a few hundred people!
Ahead of the torch, numerous vehicles drove past, including a large number of police.
In typical English style, with just a few minutes until the torch was due to arrive, it began to rain!
Ahead of the torch itself were a number of ‘sponsor’ vehicles, all plying their wares to the crowd.
Eventually the torch appeared in view, carried high by twelve-year-old Rebecca Scott.
After a few seconds, it had passed by and was away down the road, only to be handed on for the next runner to perform their brief moment in the limelight.
A few minutes after passing our house, the flame would reach the crowds lining the High Street.
In many ways the Olympic torch relay is a metaphor for the Olympic Games themselves. We’ve known that they were coming to London since 2005 and the build-up has been huge. In just over a month’s time, the games themselves will be over. They, like the Olympic flame before them, will have moved on to Rio and be nothing but a memory.
The torch relay consists of 8000 runners taking part over 70 days. Each of them must have been looking forward to their own ‘run’ for weeks and in many ways, their excitement must have been greater than for all those looking on.
We saw just one of those 8000 people, but for those of us who saw it, the photos and memories of the day the Olympic Torch came to Maidenhead will be something we can share in years to come with our children and grandchildren and say simply ‘I was there’.