May 7 - Four-times Olympic cycling champion Sir Chris Hoy has stepped in to help Lloyds TSB Torchbearers prepare to carry the London 2012 Flame.
The Scottish ace (pictured below, with Lloyds TSB Torchbearers Samantha Grundy and Spike Reid) agreed to lend a helping hand after research released by London 2012's Official Banking and Insurance Partner revealed that many of its carriers are feeling nervous ahead of their big moment.
The Olympic Torch Relay begins in Land's End on May 19 and an average of 115 Torchbearers per day are set to carry the Olympic Flame during its 8,000-mile, 70-day journey around the United Kingdom before it arrives at the Olympic Stadium on July 27 for the lighting of the Cauldron at the Opening Ceremony.
In order to feel more at ease, many carriers are practising at home with everyday household objects – and one lucky group of 15 has been invited to join Hoy, a Lloyds TSB ambassador, in Manchester to hear how he prepares for a major event and to practice passing the Flame.
"These Lloyds TSB Torchbearers have all worked incredibly hard to be nominated and recognised for making a difference in their community," said the 36-year-old from Edinburgh.
"Now the eyes of the world will be on them as they carry the Flame they will want to ensure that they are confident in their ability to deliver.
"Practice makes perfect and while we're not advocating that everyone should be as fit as an Olympian to run with the Torch, knowing that you can handle it for your 300 metres in the spotlight will help you make the most of your moment and enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime experience."
Of those Torchbearers questioned in a Lloyds TSB survey, 45 per cent said they will be practising at home with a rolling pin, believed to be the closest object in size, shape and weight to the London 2012 Torch.
One-quarter of respondents are training with a relatively more accessible rolled-up newspaper while 20 per cent are relying on a hairbrush as a Torch substitute.
The remaining 10 per cent have selected quirky substitutes, ranging from a large candlestick to a cricket bat while one fortunate Torchbearer has enjoyed the privilege of practising with a Beijing 2008 Torch.
Samantha Grundy from Wakefield in Yorkshire said it has been fantastic to receive tips from Hoy.
"It was an honour to meet Sir Chris and to hear all about how he stays calm and focused ahead of his big events," she said.
"I shall use some of his tips ahead of carrying the Olympic Flame."
She added: "I really appreciate Lloyds TSB giving me this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to carry the Flame and I'm going to make sure that I do my community proud as I represent them in Wakefield.
"I can't remember the last time I felt so excited."
Grundy is not alone in being full of anticipation as many of the Torchbearers questioned in the survey believe that being given the chance to carry the Olympic Flame is even more exciting than potential British supporting success over the summer.
Thirty-seven per cent said it would be more exciting than England winning the Euro 2012 football championships and 27 per cent a bigger thrill than if British ace Andy Murray winning Wimbledon.
Two respondents even claimed it would be more exciting than their wedding day.
The research also showed that Hoy has been placed equal third, along with heptathlete Jessica Ennis, in the Torchbearers' poll nominating the final Torchbearer and lighter of the Cauldron at the Olympic Stadium.
Five-times Olympic rowing champion Sir Steve Redgrave topped the poll taking 44 per cent of the votes, with England's former football captain, David Beckham, second with 12 per cent.
Hoy and Ennis each garnered 11 per cent of the vote.
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