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'Fantastic' to bring flame to Kent

Olympian Dame Kelly Holmes said she hoped the 2012 Games would inspire future generations of British champions after carrying the Olympic flame on its latest leg.

The double Olympian, who won 1500m and 800m gold in Athens in 2004, lit the torch at Tonbridge Castle in Kent in front of hundreds of schoolchildren and well-wishers.

She earlier circuited the grounds of the castle with 85-year-old Frank Verge who carried the Olympic flame as a 22-year-old through parts of Kent in the 1948 torch relay.

The stop at Tonbridge, close to Dame Kelly's home in Hildenborough, was a late addition to the route after she voiced disappointment that it would not pass by.

Afterwards, the 42-year-old athlete said: "It has been absolutely fantastic to bring some of the Olympic spirit and the flame to Tonbridge.

"It wasn't going to be here but the local council pulled out the stops to get this up and running. These moments, when the flame gets lit, are iconic.

"These Games have always been about youth and inspiring them and future champions. The schools here today have built up a momentum towards the Olympics, and it has become real to them now."

Dame Kelly's mother Pam Thomson was among the crowds. She said: "It made me go all goose-bumpy to see her carrying the flame in front of all these people.

"It's fantastic because hopefully this memory will live with these schoolchildren forever."

Dame Kelly and Mr Verge were among 137 torchbearers who carried the flame as it travelled 108 miles through East Sussex and Kent.


From Belfast Telegraph