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Olympic Torch In Renfrewshire: Four Weeks To Go!

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The Olympic Torch Relay is just four weeks away from passing through Renfrewshire – and the Torchbearers who’ll carry the flame through Lochwinnoch on Friday 8 June are counting down to a moment they’ll remember forever.

Vegard Sjursen, 27, from Trondheim in Norway; Jennifer Sundqvist, 27, from Stockholm in Sweden; and Janice Hendrie, 56, from Greenock, will join Natalie Still, 18, from Johnstone as Lochwinnoch Torchbearers.

Natalie is the only Renfrewshire resident who’ll carry the flame through the area. She was nominated by Ewan Jamieson, a Renfrewshire Council Active Schools Co-Ordinator.

Natalie said: “I’ve had a passion for sport from a young age. I’ve been inspired by the Active Schools staff and PE staff at Johnstone High School and began to think I could do for others what they had done for me. I’ve gained so many life skills and great experiences from taking part in, and leading sports sessions over the last few years and I think it’s something everybody should get involved in. When I realised the Olympics were coming to London I thought it was perfect opportunity to inspire more children to take part in sport and hopefully instill in them the passion that I have for sport and the Olympics.

“Being selected as a Torchbearer is a dream come true. When Ewan told me he’d nominated me I was thrilled, but didn’t think I would be selected. When I found out I was officially getting to carry the Torch I was blown away – it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. Getting to carry the torch through Lochwinnoch makes the experience even more special since it is close to my home town – so friends and family can come and watch and it is also one of the villages where I’ve worked to get children involved in sport over the last 4 years.”

Janice has been a PE teacher at Notre Dame High School in Greenock for 34 years and is also a head coach at Inverclyde Athletics Club. She won her Torchbearer role in October through a Real Radio competition.

Janice said: “I was honoured that my club, Inverclyde AC, felt strongly enough to nominate me. When I was announced as the winner, it was pretty nerve wracking to be on the radio.

“Since then the reaction and support from others has increased my awareness of what a great honour this is – and with that comes a responsibility to be a role model. I’m also delighted with the positive publicity this is bringing to both my club and to the school I teach in.”

“I am now looking forward to taking part and my pupils have been ‘training me’ by running round the pitch holding an upturned cone to simulate the torch. However I think this is to take my attention off the fact that they’re the ones doing the running!”

Vegard Sjursen is Sports Manager at his local track and field club and was nominated to be a Torchbearer by his colleagues.

He said: “My sports career started in track and field. I can thank my mama as she forced me to the first training sessions 9 years old. I am glad she saw my talent, and it didn’t take long before I loved the sport.

“In 2001 I became the fastest 16 year old in Norway in the 60m event, and won the Norwegian Youth Championship. It was a great moment for me!

“The sport manager in the local club got me involved in organising and I joined the board. I learned a lot, and was also coached in starting, judging athletics, and training young athletes.

“I am very thankful for those people that have nominated me to carry the flame. It’s because of the people around me I do this. I know they appreciate my work. A dream day for me is being on the track a sunny day, among friends, doing my sprinting.

“It’s a great honor for me to carry the flame. It is a sign that everything is possible for anyone that has dreams.”

Jennifer Sundqvist has a rugby playing background and now works for the Swedish Rugby Union as Head of Information. She was nominated by her colleagues.

She said: “I started playing rugby in 1999 when I was living in Hong Kong. I went on to represent Hong Kong in rugby sevens for three years, captaining the team in my final year. I then moved to New Zealand to study and played for the Otago University RFC for six years.

“On returning to Sweden I began working for the Swedish Rugby Union and I still play – currently for the Stockholm Exiles RFC. Last year I also served as the General Manager for the Swedish Women’s Sevens Team.”

“I’m honoured to have been chosen to carry the Olympic flame. It still feels surreal, and will probably continue to do so until I’m standing there with torch. Since I started playing rugby in school, the Olympics have been a dream. It doesn’t seem a likely possibility for me anymore, with rugby only being reintroduced into the Games in 2016, so I’m thrilled to have this little part to play in the Olympics.”

The Olympic Torch will arrive into Lochwinnoch at 2.00 pm on Friday 8 June from Beith, North Ayrshire on the A760 before travelling along Main Street (B786), High Street (B766), and will continue on the B786 along Johnshill where the flame will then pass into Kilmacolm, Inverclyde.

The streets along the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay can be viewed in full atwww.london2012.com/olympictorchrelay This gives street-by-street details and proposed start times for when the Olympic Flame will travel.