Chiswick Youth Joins Sporting Heroes In Olympic Torch Relay

Michael Campbell carried flame along Shaftesbury Ave amid loud cheers and some jeers

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Michael Campbell, 15, joined his sporting heroes Tim Henman, Denise Lewis, Kevin Pietersen and Theo Walcott to carry the Olympic flame in the London Olympic Torch Relay on Sunday.

Michael was successful in winning a place to carry the torch as one of 18 youth ambassadors, selected from Schools, Youth and Sports Clubs across London.

Michael is a year 10 pupil at the Cardinal Vaughan School in Kensington and Chelsea, and captain of his school's under 15 team which last year won both the London County and Inner London Football Cups.

A self-confessed sports fanatic, Michael plays Football, Athletics, Swimming and Tennis at a senior level. "I am passionate about sport and owe a great deal to my teachers at Cardinal Vaughan for their coaching skills, motivation and inspiration."

The 15 year old picked up the Olympic flame in St Giles High Street and ran 600 meters with the flame, amid loud cheers and some jeers, down Shaftesbury Avenue to the borders of London's Chinatown. There he passed the flame to Bai Jian, a 34 year-old physical education teacher in Number Two Middle School, Anshan, Liaoning Province in China. Bai was chosen from thousands of applicants to be the Chinese ''common man'' representative on the London section of the Torch Relay.

Asked about his participation the Torch Relay, Michael said ''It was probably the most exciting day of my life. It was a great honour to carry the Olympic flame as it is a beacon of hope for the world and the Olympic Games represents the true brotherhood of man. I was thrilled when the torch passed to me and the closer I got to Chinatown the cheers and the applause grew louder and louder. The atmosphere was truly electric. It was exhilarating to be involved in the Torch Relay.''

''Given the protests,'' Michael continued ''the torchbearers were all anxious about running the Relay but I had great support and encouragement from people like Sir Trevor McDonald, Denise Lewis and Peter Kenyon, the Chelsea Chief Executive''.

Summing up his experience, Michael said ''It would not have missed it for the world. I am very concerned about human rights in China but meeting people like Bai Jian, who has found the money on a meagre wage to raise 24 under-privileged children, convinces me that Olympic ideals of brotherhood, and the Games itself, will have a long lasting impact on China. Bai Jian's life puts everything into perspective. For many people in China, human rights are no more than daily struggle for the very basic needs (food, housing and schooling……).

The Chiswick youth, whose favourite subjects are PE and English, said he would like to pursue a career in sports journalism and would like to report on the London Olympics in 2012.

Michael Campbell


April 9, 2008