Aug 29 2012 by David Baker, Harrow Observer
CHEERING spectators lined the streets and packed landmarks in Harrow and Brent to welcome the Paralympic Torch and celebrate the ‘superhuman’ athletes who will take part.
There were plenty of crowds to welcome the teams of torchbearers along the way, despite it taking place in the early hours of yesterday morning (Wednesday) as part of the 24-hour relay.
The procession was meant to arrive at Aspire Centre, which provides fitness facilities for disabled and non-disabled people, including Paralympians, in Brockley Hill, Stanmore, at 3.30am but fell behind schedule at the start of its journey in Stoke Mandeville, Bucks, arriving finally at 6am.
However, some 100 people patiently awaited its arrival with an impromptu session of wheelchair basketball.
Director of fundraising, Chris Field, said: “It was really amazing to have all the staff and members of the public here, creating such a great atmosphere. I think, for us, we have always had one eye on the Paralympics so it was great to be recognised and have the honour of the torch coming through here.”
Spectator David House, 33, from Pinner, said: “I waited at the Aspire Centre for the torch from 2.30am this morning but it was definitely worth the wait. I’m really excited about the Paralympics because it will give people with disabilities their chance to shine and to show the world what they’re capable of.”
Some households had left lanterns out, as requested by organisers, to ‘light the way’ to the Olympic Park in Stratford for the opening of the Games.
The flame travelled along Honeypot Lane to Kingsbury, where Christine Davis, 62, of Preston Road, Wembley, waited for more than two hours.
She said: “No one seems to care that it has been delayed, we are just enjoying ourselves and spending a little more time out here has been quite good fun.
“I know there has been some criticism of the timings of the relay but I think it is a really innovative and different way to do it. Paralympians are almost superhumans so I think it only right to come out and show our support for the games and cheer on those who get to carry the torch, whatever the time.”
Once in Brent, it was greeted with Indian drumming at Shri Swaminarayan Mandir (also known as Neasden Temple) – one of the landmarks featured on the official Olympic pin badges – where volunteers conducted a traditional good luck ceremony.
Hundreds packed the car park and entrance to Willesden Sports Centre in Donnington Road at its next stop, where members of Kilburn Shotokan Karate Club showed off their moves.
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