Will the Olympic flame light my fire?

Shaun McCarthy

July 26, 2012   |   Posted by Shaun McCarthy

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I was about six when the biggest cheer in boxing history was recorded when Henry Cooper knocked down Cassius Clay (now known as Muhammad Ali) in a non-title fight in London. There was controversy at the end of the round as Clay’s corner claimed he had a split glove (allegedly to give him more recovery time), Cooper lost the fight with a cut eye and the rest is history. “Our ‘Enry” went on to be a well-loved figure among the British public until his sad death last year, Ali went on to be the greatest sportsman the world had ever seen, chat show sensation and a global ambassador for civil rights. In common with many people of my generation Ali was the first person to open my eyes to the inequalities of the world and he has been an inspiration to me ever since. I don’t agree with everything he said but I would defend his right to say it. The sheer spectacle of Ali lighting the Olympic flame in Atlanta was one of the great Olympic moments for me. In the home of the civil rights movement, the great man fought against his debilitating Parkinson’s disease to inspire the world one more time. There is much speculation about the London 2012 flame. Where will it be? Who will light it? Apparently Ali is in town, surely not? But the question for me will be: “Will it be low carbon?” In 2007 when the first London 2012 sustainability plan was published we were promised a low carbon Olympic torch and a low carbon flame. The torch was a miserable failure. The excuse “we ran out of time after working hard since 2009” just says “we faffed around and did nothing between 2007 and 2009 and then failed to deliver”. We were critical at the time and I made it very clear to LOCOG that I do not expect them to fail with the flame. Of course this is all a deep dark secret but the small amount of information I have been given by LOCOG makes me quite optimistic that they will do something very different that will satisfy the iconic symbolism of the Games and emit less carbon. All will be revealed on the night. Watch it on telly, tweet or email us and let us know what you think.

Shaun McCarthy

July 2012

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