Thompson to carry Olympic flame

Daley Thompson, Seb Coe's personal choice to light the Olympic flame, saw his odds for the honour lengthen after organisers confirmed he would carry the torch 48 hours before the opening ceremony.


Coe has no role in selecting the final torchbearer but has previously said he believes close friend Thompson, the two-time decathlon gold medallist in 1980 and 1984, is Great Britain's greatest-ever Olympian.

But Thompson will be the final torchbearer next Wednesday, lighting a special ceremonial cauldron during an event at Alexandra Palace in north London.

However, it doesn't necessarily rule out any involvement 48 hours later. The other name tipped for the job, five-time Olympic champion Sir Steve Redgrave, has already taken his turn with the torch in Henley last week but Cathy Freeman carried the flame in the build up to 2000 Games and again in the opening ceremony.

This weekend it was reported that organisers Locog and the British Olympic Association, the other body charged with choosing the final torchbearer, were involved in a heated discussion over who should be given the honour.

London 2012 chief executive Paul Deighton and his ceremonies team reportedly liked the claims of big personality Thompson but the BOA, whose chief executive Andy Hunt has forged a close relationship with Redgrave since his appointment in 2009, wants the rower to be given the prized responsibility.

Meanwhile, organisers have confirmed more details for the final week of the torch's 70-day journey. It will arrive in the capital by helicopter this Friday, from where a Royal Marine commando will abseil 180 ft to a special greeting event, attended by the London mayor, at the Tower of London.

During a week of events, the torch will visit many capital landmarks, including the Cutty Sark, London Eye and Downing Street, and all 33 London boroughs.

Among the confirmed torchbearers are Doreen Lawrence, mother of murdered teenager Stephen, two-time Olympic gold medallist James Cracknell and Antoine de Navacelle, the great grand-nephew of Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the father of the modern Olympic Games.

Details have also been revealed for the last few hours of the flame's 8,000 mile journey on July 27.

It will board the Queen's row barge Gloriana, most recently seen at the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, at Hampton Court Palace and a crew of 16 British rowers, past and future, including some involved in the 1948 Games, will carry the flame down the River Thames.

The torch will then be received at Tower Bridge in central London shortly before lunchtime, at which point it will remain out of public view at City Hall until it appears at the opening ceremony shortly before midnight.

Organisers estimate nine million people have so far lined the streets to cheer the torch's progress around the UK and are expecting huge crowds for the final week of its journey.

"The torch relay has received a rousing reception from the British public over the last two months, with millions of people lining the streets to support the local hero Torchbearers as they passed by some of Britain’s most iconic landmarks and landscapes," said Olympics minister Hugh Robertson.

"Now the flame is on the home straight. Its arrival in London and journey through the capital marks the final countdown to what will be a great Games."

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