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Olympic torch to light up Shetland

Ambassadors Mhairi Gifford from Shetland (top right corner), 18 year old Danielle Pryce from Aberystwyth, Wales; 14 year old Cassie Munro from Holywood, Belfast, Northern Ireland; 19 year old Sophie Lowe from Norwich, East of England; 14 year old Amy Johns from Penzance, Cornwall; and 14 year old Simran Dhingra-Smith from Newham, London point to their respective homes on the map during London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay Briefing - Photo by Matt Cardy

ORGANISERS of the 2012 London Olympic Games have confirmed that the Olympic torch will come to Shetland on 10 June next year.

The announcement comes as Vidlin lass Mhairi Gifford represented Scotland at the UK’s first Olympic event – a photocall at Land’s End broadcast live on the BBC’s Wednesday morning breakfast show.

The torch will arrive from Greece at Land’s End exactly one year from today and go on an 8,000 miles relay through every country and every region of the UK before arriving at the Olympic Stadium in London on 27 July 2012.

Fifteen year old Mhairi, a secondary 3 pupil at Brae High School, had been put forward by the school’s head teacher Colin Kirkness as a sports ambassador.

Her PE teacher Jill Hibbert said she was a very able all-rounder and has represented her school at volleyball, football, netball, basketball and hockey.

Brae High School pupil Mhairi Gifford represented Scotland at the Olympic Torch relay route announcement on Wednesday morning - Photo: Gordon Stove

“Mhairi has been fencing since the age of ten. She has competed in National Open competitions since the age of 13. She is very committed to her training and a determined competitor.

“There are many logistical difficulties in participating in high level sport from Shetland, but Mhairi has overcome these, with the assistance of her parents and coach, consistently achieving good results in Scottish competitions. She has set herself the goal of representing Scotland at junior and senior level,” she added.

It is not yet known whether Mhairi will become one of the 8,000 torchbearers who will be named later in the year.

Speaking immediately after her TV appearance, she said that initially she had not believed her mum Mary when she told her that the school had chosen her to travel the 1,000 miles to Land’s End.

“It is an honour to be here and to be the only one from Shetland and from Scotland; it really is unbelievable and I enjoyed it.

“Half of the people can’t point Shetland on a map. It really is good that the torch is coming to Shetland,” she said.

The other young sports people at Wednesday’s event were from Belfast, Aberystwyth, Norwich, and London, representing the UK’s four countries plus London as the host for the Olympics.

Meanwhile, the local council, MP Alistair Carmichael and Shetland Arts have all expressed their delight with the news that the torch relay includes Shetland.

Director of Shetland Arts Gwilym Gibbons said the organisation had into discussions with the organisers three years ago with ideas about how the whole of the UK could be represented on the relay route.

“The image and the spectacle of the torch running through Shetland, broadcast to millions around the world will be fantastic for the isles.

“Shetland Arts will continue its conversations with the Torch Relay Team and local partners to ensure Shetland can celebrate in style this once in a life time event,” he said.

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