Some of Oxford University’s top sportsmen and women, past and present, have described their excitement at welcoming the Torch to Oxford with weeks until the beginning of the London Olympic Games.
Sir Roger Bannister said: ‘I remember the austerity Olympics in 1948. I wasn’t running but I saw them and of course we shall have surprises and there will be heroes who emerge from the London Olympics. So it is a very moving event to be able to carry the torch.’
Nicola Byrom, an Oxford graduate student who carried the Torch around the track after Sir Roger, said of the experience: ‘It was completely overwhelming. I’m very relieved to be done. When I got here this morning I was terrified and when I got on the track I calmed down, Roger was so calm and relaxed and it was really great to take the Torch off him.’
Dr Stephanie Cook, who won a gold medal in modern pentathlon in 2000, said: ‘I hope that this incredible atmosphere provides some inspiration for the athletes that are training here today.
‘Certainly when I was here I did many a track session down here at Iffley Road. It has a great many memories – some of them of pain rather than of joy at doing all the hard work but that is what you have to do as an athlete to get the results that you want.’
Nikki Emerson, a T53 wheelchair racer who studied at Oxford until recently, said: ‘I used to train on this track and it was so inspirational then just knowing that Roger Bannister had run the mile here and having just met him today I am completely star-struck.’
Also present were Dick Healey, who coxed the men’s fours in the last London Games in 1948, and Geoff Tudor, who ran in the 3,000m steeplechase. Geoff said in an earlier interview: ‘We were provided with an Olympic tie which was extremely short to save cloth
‘There was a problem with the British flag – we seemed to have forgotten to provide ourselves with one of suitable size and Roger Bannister, an aide to the team manager, had to rush off and find a flag from a diplomatic car and the British team had to march in led by a rather pathetic little flag compared to the magnificent banners of other teams.’
Also present were Jonny Searle, Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss and the Chilean athletics team for the Olympics, with their Oxonian President Alvaro Gonzalez, who are using Iffley Road to prepare for the Games.
The video was edited by Tom Wilkinson of the Publications and Web Office, Public Affairs Directorate, with extra footage shot by Karen Carey and Steve Pierce of Oxford University’s Computing Services.