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Torch in Modern Games birthplace

The Olympic torch has been carried through the town credited as the birthplace of the Modern Games by an 83-year-old cancer survivor and a soon-to-be six times Olympian.

The 12th day of the flame's relay around the UK saw it visit Much Wenlock in Shropshire, which began celebrating a precursor to the Modern Olympics called the Wenlock Olympian Games in 1850.

Among the seven torchbearers who made their way through the crowded town were Olympian archer Alison Williamson and great-grandfather Ronald Miles.

Local historian Mr Miles, who is from nearby Telford and survived a cancer operation last January, said carrying the torch was "the best experience I ever had in my life".

He added: "I have had some wonderful experiences, I saw Her Majesty the Queen married in 1947, I have been all over the world to 60 countries, but nothing touches this."

Mr Miles said he had been training to carry the torch, and this had allowed him to run for half of his 300-metre stretch with the flame. "I'm quite fit despite having a major operation to remove a bowel cancer in January this year," he added.

Much Wenlock's direct links to the modern Olympics date back to 1890, when International Olympic Committee founder Baron Pierre de Coubertin visited Wenlock to inquire about the town's games.

Alison Williamson, who will become just the third British athlete to compete in six Summer Olympics when she takes part at London 2012, said: "The Olympics might never have taken place if Baron De Coubertin had not come to Wenlock and seen the games that Dr William Penny Brooks had created himself."

The 40-year-old's sixth participation in the Games will put her level with fencer Bill Hoskyns and javelin thrower Tessa Sanderson in number of Olympic participations.

Earlier the torch took a barge across the longest and highest aqueduct in Britain. After starting it's 12th day on the road in Chester and visiting Wrexham, the relay arrived at Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and went up the Llangollen Canal over the valley of the River Dee.


From Belfast Telegraph