Sir Steve Redgrave is athletes' pick to light Olympic Games cauldron

Daily Echo: Sir Steve Redgrave Sir Steve Redgrave

If the views of British athletes are anything to go by then Sir Steve Redgrave should have the honour of lighting the cauldron to start the London 2012 Olympics .

The five-time Olympic rowing champion was the top choice of a wide range of sports stars, many of whom know just how hard it is to try and win even one Olympic medal.

Many also believed that a member of the public could get the moment in the spotlight in line with London 2012's slogan to "Inspire a generation".

Sir Steve is also the hot pick with bookies with Corals putting him at 1-2 favourite, double Olympic athletics champion Dame Kelly Holmes at 5-2 and two-time decathlon gold medallist Daley Thompson at 4-1.

British cycle hero Bradley Wiggins, fresh from his Tour de France win, is 10-1.

There is also backing for former England captain David Beckham, partly out of sympathy for his failure to be picked for the Team GB football squad but also because he has been a strong ambassador for the Games.

The thing counting against him is that he is not an Olympian.

Here are the views of some of athletes and sports officials on who should get the role along with some of their memories of the best flame lighting at the opening of the Olympics.

:: Gareth Evans - Weightlifting "Chris Hoy - He is a big inspiration, three gold medals at the last Olympics. He is the main man. It would be nice to see him do it."

:: Mo Farah - Athletics, World 5,000m champion and 10,000m silver medallist "It has to be Sir Steve Redgrave, just because of what he has achieved as an athlete. There's not many people got any medals close to him. It has to be him in my opinion and we share the same birthday so that's another thing.

"My favourite lighting from the past is Muhammad Ali (Atlanta 1996). I'm a big fan of his. I still love him and it's amazing what he did in the sport. I still look up to him a lot."

:: David Florence - Slalom canoe, silver at the Beijing 2008 Olympics "I guess Chris Hoy is an obvious choice from the previous Games but I am sure there are a lot of people that I have not thought of that it could be."

:: William Fox-Pitt - Equestrian, eventing team bronze at Beijing 2008 "Personally I think it should be Mary King. She's an incredible Olympic athlete. She's in my team, I'm biased, this will be her sixth Olympic Games which is incredible."

"I've been very lucky to have been in three Olympics, there are incredible moments from all of them but I think when I was in Atlanta I was 26 and just seeing Muhammad Ali light the Olympic flame in that stadium at the opening ceremony, that was incredible."

:: Dai Greene - Athletics, World 400m champion "I would love Daley Thompson as track and field is obviously the most dominant sport when you think of the Olympics.

"He was a fantastic sportsman and a great role model. To win medals in the decathlon is fantastic and I have a lot of respect for him so I would love to see him do it."

:: Kate Howey - Judo, silver in Sydney 2000 and bronze in Barcelona 1992 "For me, it would definitely have to be Sir Steve Redgrave. He has five Olympic gold medals and you can't argue with that.

"I would be a bit disappointed if someone like David Beckham did it. He is a great ambassador, but in terms of lighting the flame, it has to be someone who has achieved Olympic success.

"There was Muhammad Ali in Atlanta, then Cathy Freedman in Sydney with the waterfall.

"But the one which sticks out in my mind was in Barcelona, when they fired the arrow.

"It went over the top, but from where we were, we could not see that.

"I was only 19 at the time and for me it was like, 'Ow, that was amazing!'

"I can remember it like it was yesterday, because it was my first Games as well.

"However, when I carried the flag in Athens, I was that nervous I cant actually remember who did it."

:: Peter Kirkbride - Weightlifting "I could be very biased and say I want me mum to do it but I have always liked Sir Steve Redgrave, Denise Lewis or Matthew Pinsent. They are fantastic role models and great Olympians."

:: Harry Martin - Hockey "There are lots of great candidates for it, but it is Sir Steve Redgrave for me. I think growing up and seeing him throughout his Olympics, he has been an inspiration to so many people."

:: Jack Oliver - Weightlifting "I want it to be David Beckham. I was really upset that he was not in the football squad. He is a national hero. If it is not him then we have got a lot of strong Olympians like Sir Chris Hoy who would be a good candidate. I am sure that whoever is chosen is going to be a great athlete and a good role model."

:: Natasha Perdue - Weightlifting "Joe Public I say because sports people get all the attention - but if it does have to be a sports person, I would say Daley Thompson.

:: Zara Phillips - Equestrian, 2006 eventing world champion "I think Sir Steve (Redgrave) would probably be the main person everybody would like to see carry it, he's a five-time Olympian so there couldn't be anyone better really."

:: Sir Matthew Pinsent - Rowing, four-time Olympic gold medallist "I think they (London 2012) will get a personality to do it. It will be someone who is emblematic of the Games.

"What about an aspiring youngster from the East End who was born on the same day we learnt we had got the Games? They would be seven now.

"The lighting ceremonies that I remember best are 1992 Barcelona and Cathy Freeman in Sydney in 2000."

:: Goldie Sayers - Athletics, javelin "Obviously the most gold medalled Olympic athlete would be Steve Redgrave and obviously Seb Coe has had a huge part in bringing the Olympics to London.

"I think that someone like Sir Roger Bannister (the first four-minute mile runner) is another iconic figure.

"I would be happy with anybody doing it. We have so many British legends not just within athletics but also within sport in this country. I am sure they will pick the right person but I am glad it is not me who has to pick them."

:: Zoe Smith - Weightlifting "There are a lot of people who are probably worthy of doing it and a lot of people want David Beckham to do it because he missed out on being in the Team GB football squad.

"For selfish reasons I would like to see David Beckham light the cauldron.

"My overriding Olympic memory is Kelly Holmes's second gold medal in Athens (2004). I was only 10 and it was quite a big moment. It has been ingrained in to my memory because of her face at the time and because my mum and dad were jumping up and down with excitement."

:: Beth Storry - Hockey "It would probably have to be Sir Steve Redgrave.

"I think when you are part of an Olympic cycle and when you see the rowers train at Bisham and how hard they train, to be able to do it for as many Olympic cycles as he did is an incredible achievement and it is just testament to him and his character as a person.

"There are lots of people who have trained over the years but to get as many medals as he has is brilliant."

:: Nigel Walker - English Institute of Sport national director and competed in the 110m hurdles at the 1984 Olympics.

"Daley Thompson would be my personal favourite because he was at the top of the world for the best part of 10 years. Excellence ran right though him like you would get through a stick of rock. He won two Olympic golds and was world record holder. He was the one go-to person who you would always think would win Olympic, world, European or Commonwealth gold.

"The stand-out ceremony for me was Muhammad Ali (in 1996) because clearly he was struggling with his health condition but it meant so much to him that he was going to struggle through it.

"Seeing him struggling to light the cauldron seemed to symbolise what the Olympics is about. It was somebody who has achieved excellence in the past but still striving to be the best they can be."

Comments (2)

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2:16pm Wed 25 Jul 12

lowe esteem says...

Feel that Sir Steve has blotted his copybook somewhat with his ungracious remarks on Daley Thompson. I had always stepped back in this argument in the past, accepting the differing achievements for what they were -high achievements in their own chosen sport, but I can now see Daley's achievement as the superior, purer unlimited and original Olympic athletic endeavour wholly reflecting the Games motto "Faster, Higher Stronger"
What is more, he continues to inspire and put more back in to Sport in general and Athletics in particular-class on a daily basis.
Feel that Sir Steve has blotted his copybook somewhat with his ungracious remarks on Daley Thompson. I had always stepped back in this argument in the past, accepting the differing achievements for what they were -high achievements in their own chosen sport, but I can now see Daley's achievement as the superior, purer unlimited and original Olympic athletic endeavour wholly reflecting the Games motto "Faster, Higher Stronger" What is more, he continues to inspire and put more back in to Sport in general and Athletics in particular-class on a daily basis. lowe esteem
  • Score: 0

2:49pm Wed 25 Jul 12

St Retford says...

lowe esteem wrote:
Feel that Sir Steve has blotted his copybook somewhat with his ungracious remarks on Daley Thompson. I had always stepped back in this argument in the past, accepting the differing achievements for what they were -high achievements in their own chosen sport, but I can now see Daley's achievement as the superior, purer unlimited and original Olympic athletic endeavour wholly reflecting the Games motto "Faster, Higher Stronger"
What is more, he continues to inspire and put more back in to Sport in general and Athletics in particular-class on a daily basis.
Agreed. Plus, rowing isn't really a sport, is it?
[quote][p][bold]lowe esteem[/bold] wrote: Feel that Sir Steve has blotted his copybook somewhat with his ungracious remarks on Daley Thompson. I had always stepped back in this argument in the past, accepting the differing achievements for what they were -high achievements in their own chosen sport, but I can now see Daley's achievement as the superior, purer unlimited and original Olympic athletic endeavour wholly reflecting the Games motto "Faster, Higher Stronger" What is more, he continues to inspire and put more back in to Sport in general and Athletics in particular-class on a daily basis.[/p][/quote]Agreed. Plus, rowing isn't really a sport, is it? St Retford
  • Score: 0

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