HUNDREDS of people have signed a petition for Sunderland’s only ever Olympian to hold the Games’ torch high when it passes through the city.
The Echo revealed last week that boxer Tony Jeffries, 27, would not be among those to carry the Olympic flame on its route through Sunderland this summer.
As a bronze medal winner in the 2008 Olympics, Tony assumed he would automatically be asked to be part of the historic occasion.
But torch-bearers all had to apply to a national body to be considered for the honour and by the time Tony realised and applied the Sunderland slots had already been allocated.
Now his fans are teaming up in the hope that the London 2012 Olympic Committee will find room for Tony on the torch’s tour of the city on June 16 which will take in Penshaw Monument.
In a matter of days the petition has received more than 250 signatures.
Chris Harvey who set up the online petition, said: “Tony Jeffries is a legend amongst Mackems, and has been overlooked by the committee for carrying the Olympic torch through his hometown of Sunderland.
“As the only living Olympian from Sunderland, he should have been asked to carry the torch as soon as plans were drawn up (as should all Olympic medal winners.)”
Former Sunderland AFC skipper Michael Gray and current midfielder David Meyler are among those who have urged their fans to sign the petition via their Twitter accounts.
Gary Scott, who is one of those to sign the petition, said: “Tony is the only Olympian from Sunderland. Having him miss out on the honour of carrying the torch is an insult to him and the people of our city. No-one deserves it more than him.”
Another fan, Bryan Tomlinson, said: “Let’s have a gold medal for common sense over stupidity. He missed the deadline to apply to carry it did he? An Olympic medallist from Sunderland shouldn’t need to apply, he should be asked on bended knee.”
Mark Cain, who’s also signed the petition, said: “Local boy done good, he’s a great role model for kids and sport.”
Former Farringdon School pupil Tony has said he will fly back from his home in LA if he was to be granted the honour of carrying the Olympic torch.
He said: “Carrying the torch would be such an honour for me. I’m not sure how much difference the petition would make, but it would be great if it meant I could be considered for the route.”
•To sign the petition log onto http://chn.ge/Jaffapetition.