The seven cauldron lighters of the London 2012 Games were tipped as Britain’s most promising young athletes, embodiments of the message ‘Inspire a Generation’. Abigail Thellusson investigates to see whether they were indeed ‘inspired’, and discovers where the last 5 years have led them on their sporting journey.
Cast your thoughts back to summer 2012 and a multitude of sporting legends will spring to the forefront of your mind: Bolt, Ennis, Ainslie, Phelps, Farah, Trott … the faces that were plastered onto buses, products, and even the Heathrow Runway continue to sculpt our memories of the London 2012 Olympics. But amongst these heroes were seven unknown individuals who played a critical and prestigious role: lighting the Olympic cauldron. They were those lucky up-and-coming athletes, handpicked by Britain’s finest sportsmen and women to represent all that the motto stood for. In a show of unashamedly glaring symbolism, they hugged their legendary mentors at the Opening Ceremony, were passed the torch, and ran around the stadium to ethereal chimes, igniting the flame of future sporting success. These seven were supposedly Britain’s greatest hopes, and, after such an experience, they surely could not fail to be further impassioned. But now that the glamour of the ceremony has long faded, leaving just early mornings, restricted funding and gruelling training sessions, are these individuals still pursuing their sporting ambitions?
Desirèe Henry – 100m (Daley Thompson)
Arguably the athlete who has stayed most in the limelight, Henry reached the 100m Semi-finals at the 2016 Rio Olympics and the 2017 IAAF World Championships. She also ran the first leg of the 100m relay in the most recent London World Championships, paving the way for her and her teammates to win a silver medal in a tight and exciting race. She has a personal best of 11.06 seconds in 100m and at 22, has a prosperous, long career ahead of her.
Katie Kirk – 800m (Dame Mary Peters)
An awkward one for the British organisers of London 2012; Katie has changed her allegiance to Ireland. She’s still competing successfully, and at the 2014 Commonwealth Games ran a PB in Semi Finals, just missing out on a place in the final.
Callum Airlie – Sailing (Dame Shirley Robertson)
There is limited information on Airlie, whose latest sailing competition results were recorded in 2013. It can be inferred that he pursued a medical degree, and chose to focus on his studies.
Aidan Reynolds – Javelin (Lyn Davies)
Because athletics wasn’t enough for Reynolds, he went on to study physics at O*ford, and is now working towards his DPhil. He’s less visible on the international stage at the moment, but still throws for O*ford and appears to be dominating the university scene. He even won the indoor varsity high jump a few years ago without any training! Reynolds credits carrying the torch as a reason for his enduring ambition.
Adelle Tracey – 800m (Dame Kelly Holmes)
Alongside training for the 800m, Tracey is a model and professional make up artist. She recently competed at the World University Games for St Mary’s and achieved a PB at the IAAF World Championships Semi Final but didn’t qualify for the final. Still, the future is bright!
Cameron MacRitchie – Rowing (Sir Steve Redgrave)
It is hard to track MacRitchie, mentee of one of Britain’s most successful Olympians. In 2015 he spoke of the difficulties of balancing his Biology Degree at Durham with his rowing ambitions, citing a back injury as another obstacle he has struggled to contend with. On the World Rowing Website there is no sign of his results beyond 2012, suggesting that international sport has taken a back seat.
Jordan Duckitt – Games Ambassador (Duncan Goodhew)
The chairman of the London 2012 Young Ambassador Steering Group for 2 years prior to the Games, Duckitt was the only non-athlete to light the flame, representing volunteering and leadership. He has now completed a medical at Edinburgh University.
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