Bring the Olympic torch to Sunderland

We want the Olympic torch on Wearside.
We want the Olympic torch on Wearside.
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TODAY the Echo is calling on Prime Minister David Cameron to make sure the Olympic Torch is re-routed through Wearside after it was missed off a tour of the region.

Despite being the biggest city in the North East, organisers failed to include Sunderland on the schedule when the famous flame stops off in the area next year.

Athletic legends Steve Cram and Brendan Foster with Jim Alder and George Fenton to announce the route of the Olympic torch relay.

Athletic legends Steve Cram and Brendan Foster with Jim Alder and George Fenton to announce the route of the Olympic torch relay.

Wearsiders have been left angry at the snub which will see the torch visiting Northumberland, Newcastle, Durham and Middlesbrough on its way to the London 2012 games.

Yesterday, Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliott challenged Mr Cameron on why the flame wasn’t visiting the city at Prime Minister’s Questions.

The PM replied: “I have to say I wasn’t aware of that and perhaps I can look into the route the Olympic Torch is taking.

“If it is possible to divert it via Sunderland I will certainly do my best.”

Boxer Tony Jeffries, the North East’s only medal winner at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, was left stunned by his home city’s omission.

He said: “A lot of people, like me, are not happy at all about the Olympic Torch not getting brought through Sunderland. Our city got an Olympic medal.”

James Blackburn, the senior Sunderland councillor responsible for sport, said the decision to miss out the city was disappointing considering that had been made with sport and sporting facilities.

The Grenada Olympic team has already selected Sunderland University and other facilities for its athletes training camp.

Speaking after the Commons debate, Ms Elliot said: “I, like many of my constituents, will be disappointed with the news that the Olympic Torch will not be stopping overnight in Sunderland despite the city being the largest in the North East.

“Sunderland’s hospitality is famous and it is a shame that we will not have the chance to host a night’s celebration in our city.

“While the final route of the Olympic Flame has not yet been announced I promise to keep up pressure that the torch will pass through Sunderland so that its people get to share in this once-in-a-lifetime occasion.”

She added: “Carrying the Olympic Torch signifies the beginning of the games. It is one of the sporting world’s great iconic images.

“In the meantime I would encourage the people of Sunderland to nominate an inspirational person from the city to be a London 2012 Olympic Torchbearer.”

The overnight stops for the route of the Olympic Torch on its 70 day tour round the UK were announced yesterday. Celebrations will take place in Alnwick, Newcastle, Durham, Middlesbrough and York.

The torch will set off from Land’s End on Saturday, May 19 next year and cover 8,000 miles on its trip around the UK.

There will be a total of 8,000 torch bearers, one for each mile it travels, 7,200 of these will be members of the public.