I hope it lights, jokes Beckham as Olympic Flame Lighting nerves get to him
Friday, 18 May 2012
May 18 - David Beckham spoke here today about the thrill of being present at the Olympic Flame Handover Ceremony – and about his worry over the technical aspects of the Flame Lighting he is due to perform after landing later today in Cornwall on the BA plane carrying the Torch back to Britain.
After admitting that he had laughed at the inadvertent reference to himself by the Panathenaic Stadium announcer as "Sir" David Beckham, he added that the Ceremony itself had had a big effect upon him.
"It gave me goosebumps, and I haven't even performed in an Olympic Games, so I can't imagine what it felt like to people like Seb Coe [London 2012 chairman]," said Beckham (pictured above, centre) who was visiting children at the Experimental University School of Athens.
Looking ahead to his task of lighting the Flame once he had accompanied it back to England from Greece on the special, yellow and golden coloured BA 2012 flight, Beckham added: "There's a certain amount of pressure that comes with that.
"I hope it lights.
"I had a small dinner with Seb Coe last night and said how delighted I was to be invited to be a part of the bid team, because I've never performed in an Olympics, I'm not an Olympian, so to be invited to be on the successful bid team – I was obviously hugely honoured.
"And then to be travelling back with the Flame tonight, it's something very special, something I shall cherish for many years.
"Being handed the Torch is the start of the celebrations, a sign that the athletes can start preparing and getting ready for the Games, start getting excited.
"The work that Seb and the team have done is really incredible."
Beckham (pictured above, centre with London Mayor Boris Johnson and Britain's Olympics Minister, Hugh Robertson) insisted he had not heard anything about whether he will be involved in the Torch-bearing of the Olympic Flame once he has carried out his duty of lighting the Flame once he touched down in Britain from here.
"If I was asked to be a Torchbearer, then – of course [I'll do it]," he said.
"To carry the Torch through London would be very special.
"But I haven't heard anything."
Beckham added that his sons were already looking forward eagerly to London 2012, which they plan to watch.
"They are getting so excited about the Games," he said.
"It's quite cute to actually hear them talk about certain events they want to go to – obviously the football; they want to see the swimming, cycling, the 100 metres.
"I'm going to try and get tickets – hopefully I'll be okay."
Beckham reiterated his desire to be picked for Team GB at the London 2012 Games, but insisted that he would never want to be picked for anything other than his footballing ability.
"I've always made it clear; everybody knows that I love representing my country.
"I've done that for quite a few years with the national team, 115 times, and I'm very proud of that."
Asked about his fitness, Beckham – who flew here from Los Angeles, where he is playing for LA Galaxy, to attend yesterday's Flame Handover Ceremony – said: "I'm still training throughout the season.
"We are only nine games into our season and I'm playing well and feeling fit.
"Fitness all the way through my career hasn't been a problem, so it won't be a problem leading up to the Games, so if I am selected I'll be in good condition."
The recent debate over whether pressure would be put on the Team GB coach, Stuart Pearce (pictured above, third right), to pick him because of his drawing power and "glamour", drew a sharp response from Beckham.
"I've always found that question a little bit disrespectful," he said.
"I have been asked about shirt sales, about filling stadiums.
"It's the kind of question I've always felt is a little bit disrespectful.
"Throughout my career I've been – pretty successful.
"I've played for some pretty big teams, and played for my country quite a few times.
"And that's one of the things – when you play for Alex Ferguson, and Sven-Göran Eriksson and Fabio Capello – managers I've played under, they don't pick players because they want to fill stadiums or, especially, sell shirts.
"Saying that, I'm very proud of the fact that people have bought my shirt or turned up to the stadium to see me and the other players.
"I don't want to be picked on a shirt sale or a stadium-filler.
"I want to be picked on what I can bring to the team.
"It's what happened throughout my career and I don't want that to change."
Looking ahead to the 70-day Torch Relay, which will take the Olympic Flame to within 10 miles of 57 million people – 95 per cent of the British population – Coe (pictured above) added: "Market research has shown that at least nine million people want to go and watch the Torch passing.
"We are talking about a sixth of the population.
"We are not proselytising or trying to get people interested anymore," he said.
"This is now a case of national engagement."
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May 2012: Olympic Flame passes to British hands
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May 2012: Ben Ainslie to be first London 2012 Torchbearer on British soil