Torchbearers shine in Olympic spotlight

The torch was carried onto the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge by PE teacher Clare Leahy from Coleraine, who is carrying the torch on Monday afternoon. Her torch "kissed" one held by Denis Broderick in order to light it.
The torch was carried onto the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge by PE teacher Clare Leahy from Coleraine, who is carrying the torch on Monday afternoon. Her torch "kissed" one held by Denis Broderick in order to light it.
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MID ULSTER is in celebration mode as the Olympic torch arrives on Thursday, but some local representatives have already had the opportunity to carry the flame.

The torch began its journey across Northern Ireland on Saturday, starting in Belfast, making its way toward Derry on Monday.

On Saturday Padraic Farrell from Magherafelt carried the torch in Newtonabbey and on Sunday, Sperrin Integrated student Bethany-Kate Bayliss, St Colm’s High School pupil Jon-Paul Devlin and 12-year-old Lissan local James McKee took their turns in the relay.

On Monday spectacular pictures were captured when the torch made it’s way in the perfect weather along the north coast. Denis Broderick, from Mayogall got the daunting task of taking the torch across the Carrick-a-rede rope bridge in Co Antrim.

“That was a bit of a surprise,” he told the MAIL. “But when I think back, the night before I got a phonecall from the organisers and they said ‘Are you ok with heights?’. I said I had no difficulty because I actually qualified as skydiver so heights don’t worry me.

“It was absolutely stunning, when you looked at the conditions, you would never get another day like it. When Peter Jack was having his picture taken at the Giant’s Causeway, a couple from Portsmouth said that nobody would believe this, they’ll think the pictures were enhanced because there was not a cloud in the sky and the sea was like glass.

Getting to carry the torch is pretty exciting in itself, but the extra bonus was carrying it over such a well known landmark.”

Denis has raised £65,000 through charity cycles all over the world and it was a friend in England who nominated him for the role.

“He came over when he heard I’d got through, he said he’d have to be there. He and his wife were here and I saw them on the bridge yesterday.”

16-year-old Aymen McGonigle carried the torch on Monday evening in Derry as a ‘future flame’. The Upperlands teen was chosen for his passion for mountain biking.

“It was really exciting. It was amazing to see so many people there taking pictures.

“Cocacola bought the torch for me which was great, it will probably go on my bedroom wall.”

He says he is looking forward to watching the Olympic Games now, particularly the BMX competitions. “Being part of it makes it even more special,” he added.

Also carrying the torch on Monday was PE teacher Claire Leahy from Maghera and Oonagh Campbell from Swatragh. Local athlete Patsy Forbes took part in the relay on Tuesday in Dungannon.

The Olympic torch will make its way from Ballyronan and is expected to touch down in Magherafelt at 1.30pm on Thursday.