Carrying the Olympic torch through the streets of Warwick, England, was the “best experience ever” for County Kilkenny’s Carina Haley.
“I had a fantastic day – just amazing – and I am still smiling,” she said after the event.
To start with, having met with the other torch bearers at beforehand for registration, “it was great listening to all the things they were involved in and what they had achieved, jut nice chatting to them and the team of organisers,” and then after a briefing they boarded our bus to go and meet the rest of the torch relay team.
“It was so exciting. There was a huge buzz in the area, a real sense of pride and celebration, and a little bit of nerves as the crowds grew bigger and bigger,” she recalled. “Once we started on our journey, each torch bearer was dropped at their designated spot at the road side to massive cheers from the rest of the torch bearers and the waiting crowds.”
“From the moment I got on the bus and saw the thousands of people standing lining the route cheering, shouting, waving, the children who had made their own torches, people picnicking along the route, so many had made an effort to come and support it,” she said, “it was so humbling and I felt really proud and honoured to have been chosen to run with the Olympic flame. It was the best experience ever.”
At 4.35pm on the day, she was dropped for her leg of the relay. “After about seven seconds of standing there alone with the crowds behind barriers, I was engulfed by people, children, babies everyone wanting to touch the torch, hold it, their children to touch it, have photos of it. This continued until the police who were part of the relay came to check the torch prior to me moving into the centre of the road to meet the previous torch bearer. Then the torches ‘kiss’ and the flame is passed on then off I went with six police running beside me, holding the torch high smiling and waving.”
“I felt like I was flying!” she said. “It meant so much as I ran along to hear familiar voices and see family and friends there waving as I ran smiling all the way waving to all.”
Her parents had come over from Kilkenny for the occasion, along with her sister Gerrie and nieces Mae and Millie with other family coming from various parts of the UK.
“For me, I feel like I represent all those I have and still do community, voluntary and charity work with, all those who work as hard if not harder than me and are so committed,” she said afterwards. “After the run they all descended on our home for a barbecue, during which many had their photo taken with the torch making a donation to one of the charities or community projects I work with.”
All in all, she said, “I had the time of my life!”