A SPORT-LOVING Wearsider is helping to guard the famous Olympic flame as it travels the length of the country.
Jon Pilkington is to be a rehab therapist in the Metropolitan Police Service’s specialist Torch Security Team (TST), it has been announced.
The iconic flame arrives in the UK today, before starting its 70-day journey ahead of the opening of this summer’s Olympic and Paralympic Games, in London.
Jon, who has played semi-professional football and also practised mixed-martial arts, will travel with the TST squad, making sure they are fit to run each day as the torch goes from Land’s End to the Olympic Stadium for the opening ceremony.
He will be on hand should any of the TST team fall victim to nasty injury.
Although the public won’t see the work he does, it is still an important role for Jon, who says he is looking forward to watching the 100 metres final at the Games when it gets under way.
The 25-year-old, who is originally from Sunderland but now lives in Edgware, north London, said: “It is a once in a lifetime opportunity to be part of the Games in our own country.
“I’m really excited to see all of this happening as it’s something I’m sure I’ll never forget.”
Jon’s day job is in the Met’s physical education branch.
The TST team, known as “the runners,” are part of a wider torch security team which includes motorcyclists, pedal cyclists, senior officers as well as operational planners.
A minimum of three TST escorts will keep pace with each torch bearer who is carrying the flame, forming a protective bubble around them.
Officers will travel on different modes of transport, travelling for up to 30 miles a day.
The Olympic Torch will reach Sunderland on Saturday, June 16.
It will make its way into the city via Whitburn, before heading along the coast at Seaburn, through the Sunderland Aquatic Centre, along Fawcett Street in the city centre and on to Chester Road.
Then, it will be carried through the Sunderland in 2012 celebration event at Herrington Country Park, before leaving past Penshaw Monument.