OLYMPIAN Sharron Davies will be among the stars descending on Weymouth and Portland this Thursday in honour of the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay.
The former Olympic swimmer will be co-presenting a live programme for the South West called Olympic Torch Live.
The programme will be presented from the official evening celebration site on Weymouth Beach and the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy at Osprey Quay as the Olympic flame arrives at the home of the London 2012 Sailing events.
In May, Davies was among the inspirational torchbearers who carried the flame through Leominster, Hereford-shire.
The Olympian was just 13 years old when she competed for Britain at the 1976 Games in Montreal and four years later won silver in Moscow in the 400m medley.
She is looking forward to visiting the borough for a rehearsal and then the big event itself which will have some ‘really good secrets’.
Davies said: “I don’t want to give too many things away but as a bit of a tease we’ve got young torchbearer Andrew McNulty involved and torchbearer Di Ludlow, whose husband played a big part in getting sailing down here.
“It’s generally about local people, not about big sporting names or the will.i.ams of this world – it’s nice if they want to take part but this is about the 7,300 ordinary extraordinary people involved in the torch relay.
“This is the first time the torch has been run in this fashion and I’m sure other countries will follow.”
Davies, who was nominated by Cheltenham Racecourse to be a torchbearer, said: “It was great to meet the other torchbearers – people with amazing stories. The feel from the crowd was extraordinary and I’ve since been to half a dozen schools with the torch and all the children want to hold it.”
Davies, who now lives in Bath, grew up in Plymouth and while her swimming training did not give her the time to go sailing, the sport ‘interests’ her.
During the Olympics, Davies will be presenting ‘poolside’ at London’s Aquatics Centre and will also be doing four days’ work for the BOA.
She said: “People say the London 2012 Games have come around fast but I was involved in the bid seven years ago and on and off all the way through so it seems like it’s been quite a long time.
“There’s nothing as amazing as a home Olympics, it’s such a special opportunity.
“I think any athlete would give their right arm to compete in front of a home crowd. It will only happen once in our lifetime.
“London put in a very good bid, all about the youngsters and the future, which is what won it over Paris.”
Sharron's life after competing
IN ADDITION to her Olympic feats, Davies won six Commonwealth Games medals, including two golds at Edmonton in 1978, and was later awarded an MBE for her services to swimming.
The Olympian, who also starred as Amazon in ITV’s Gladiators game show, is now a TV commentator, has written a number of books and is patron of Disabled Sport England and The Sports Aid Foundation.
She also oversees her own annual event, Swim for Life, which involves more than 2,000 pools nationwide and helps raise money for many causes.
Roads to close for convoy
A SYSTEM of rolling road closures will be in place as the Torch Relay Convoy moves through the area.
On Thursday July 12, the Esplanade, from the Kings Statue to the Pavilion Theatre, will be closed from 12pm until 10pm.
On Friday July 13, some roads in Weymouth and Preston will be closed one hour before the Torch Relay arrives and up to a half-hour after and diversions will be in operation. On-street parking restrictions will also apply in several places up to four hours before the torch arrives.
Some town centres roads will be fully closed an hour before the torch passes through and for up to half an hour afterwards.
The following locations will be affected – timings are approximate:
• Bridport, East St - from East Rd roundabout, West St - to Tannery Rd roundabout, South St - to Gundry Lane, closed 1.45pm-3.15pm July 12
• Lyme Regis, A3052 - from Anning Lane through Church St, Bridge St, Broad St and Pound St, Cobb Rd, closed 2.30pm- 4pm July 12
• Weymouth town centre, Cross Road - between Buxton Rd and Connaught Rd, closed 7.30am-9am July 13
• Preston, Littlemoor Rd - between Coombe Valley Rd and Chalbury Corner roundabout, closed 9am-10.30am July 13
• Swanage, Institute Rd, closed 11.30am-1pm July 13
• Wareham, South St and North St, closed 1.30pm-3pm July 13
• The borough council is also asking residents to make sure their waste can be collected from 6am on July 12 and 13.