Friday, 27 July 2012

Falklands share the full spirit of the London Olympics with torch bearer Rebecca

Falkland Islands residents were able to get into the swing of the lead up to the Olympics this week when one of 8,000 Olympic torch bearers, Commonwealth Games badminton gold medallist Rebecca Pantaney (36) carried a torch to the Islands.

Alan and Donna Yon with baby Abigail and Rebecca and torch

Scouts and beavers line up with Rebecca and the torch Scouts and beavers line up with Rebecca and the torch

A worker at the Leiv Eiriksson rig holds the paper “Olympic torch” constructed by school children.

Rebecca, who has given training to the Falklands badminton team annually since 2007, in preparation for both the Island Games and the Commonwealth Games, said, “people love it, it really brings home that the Olympics will start soon.”

Children at both schools and other children groups had a personal visit, while others were able to have their photo taken alongside Rebecca and the torch at the West Store CafĂ© on Wednesday. Others will have the opportunity on Friday night at the Olympic Spirit event at Stanley’s Town Hall.

The England Under 19 age group coach told Penguin News she has a busy schedule while in the Islands, not just as a result of her torch carrying duties: “I’m coaching while I’m here, both younger players and the small squad heading to Brazil.”

Rebecca will join three other members of the Stanley badminton club team in Sao Paulo at the end of September when she will play doubles with Islander Mike Brownlee at the event which is part of the International Badminton Federation circuit.

Other team members comprise Doug Clark and Laura Minto: “it will be a great experience for them all,” she said.

Rebecca, who began playing badminton when she was ten years old, officially retired from badminton in 2003 and immediately took up coaching. She is currently one of only 2 level 3 coaches in the UK and the only female. She most recently returned from coaching in Belgium she told Penguin News.

Asked how she came to be part of the torch bearers group, Rebecca explained that her family and another badminton coach had nominated her last year. She found out she had been chosen last December, but was asked not to release the news until March.

On May 23, her big day, she set out before 5am on a bus carrying 20 other torch bearers. They were dropped off along the route and when each one finished their part of the relay they re-boarded the coach and followed the next runner. Her day finished around 10pm, all for a 300 metre run; but a very worthy one.

In other Olympics related events the ever resourceful Camp education teachers and children pulled off something of a coup with their carefully constructed paper Olympic torches, when one was delivered to the Leiv Erikssen rig and taken on a tour of the facilities including the moon-pool and the drill floor.

The rig workers kindly took up the challenge with enthusiasm and utilised the ‘flame’, lighting up the mechanics’ area and even sending it to the medic for a check up when it dwindled, before giving it a ‘douse’ of petrol following the doctor’s prognosis.

It was sent to the bridge to help steer the rig and then flown back to Stanley for a flight around the Falklands courtesy of the Falkland Islands Government Air Service. Finally it visited the North Camp and the school at MPC.

Another celebrated “Olympic” event had as its main performer the Falklands’ youngest resident Abigail Charlee-Rae Yon born on July 20, 2012.

Abigail might not remember her meeting with Olympic Games torch bearer Commonwealth Games UK gold medallist Rebecca Pantaney, but courtesy of Falklands’ photographer Norman Clark she had the moment recorded for posterity.

Mum Donna has a rather more difficult task than Rebecca however, because at 7lb 2oz at birth, Abigail was at least 5lbs heavier than the super light weight aluminium alloy torch.

Each torch has 8,000 small holes to represent the number of torch bearers. The circles which run the length of the body of the torch make it lighter to carry and also offer a level of transparency, allowing people to see right to the heart and view the burner system that keeps the flame alight.

The circles also help ensure heat is quickly dissipated without being conducted down the handle. (Penguin News).-

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