A moment to remember

Mike Kerr receives the cheers of the crowd as he carries the torch through Toryglen Stadium.
Mike Kerr receives the cheers of the crowd as he carries the torch through Toryglen Stadium.

UDDINGSTON’S Mike Kerr admitted getting his hands on the Olympic torch just weeks after having his London 2012 Paralympic participation confirmed was a moment to remember.

Mike was celebrating last month when over 10 years of hard graft – and air miles galore – was rewarded when the 29-year-old was selected to be part of Team GB’s 11-strong wheelchair rugby squad for the London Games.

That good news will provide two weeks in the spotlight later this summer however it was two minutes of fame that left Kerr buzzing last week.

As part of his involvement with the Bank of Scotland Local Heroes initiative Mike was selected to carry the Olympic flame as it reached Scotland for the first time on Friday.

He received the flame from three-time Olympic silver medallist Katherine Grainger at the Toryglen Football Centre and admitted his double whammy of selection and flame stardom provided an unforgettable few weeks.

Mike said: “It was absolutely amazing. To carry the Olympic torch and to compete in the Games is fantastic.

“I can’t really put it into words to be honest, it just makes it that wee bit extra special to be able to do both.

“I didn’t expect there to be as many people as there actually was it was just an absolutely phenomenal experience – I was a bit star struck.

“It has been a very long journey for me getting into the squad, especially being the only Scot in the squad, I am travelling a lot of miles down and up.

“But not only that it’s taken me over 10 years to get where I am today so it has been a lot of hard work and dedication.”

And despite the Paralympics not kicking off until late-August Mike insisted his break from training to carry the flame was a rare day off from an otherwise hectic schedule.

He said: “It’s been head down training since January but it has sort of ramped up for the last few months and stuff.

“It is only going to get more intense leading up the Games itself but it’s all good – the hard work pays off in the end and if it was easy everybody would be doing it.”

Ten years ago the health and fitness student was forced to cut his studies short after a diving accident on a summer holiday left him paralysed.

Now though he has found himself back at the City of Glasgow College after being offered free access to its state-of-the-art facilities to train and prepare for the event.

Iain Houston, head of department for fitness and sports, said: “We were delighted to help Mike and it’s great that he’s been able to come in and speak to the sports students.

“It certainly helps them in their studies of working to support people with disabilities.”

Meanwhile, pupils from Glencairn Primary in Motherwell, along with youngsters from Holytown Primary and Tannochside Primary will be among 2,012 youngsters invited to line the route when the Olympic torch passes through North Lanarkshire today (Wednesday).

The flame will travel along North Carbrain Road in Cumbernauld just before noon with entertainment taking place from 11am.

North Lanarkshire provost Jim Robertson said: “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I would encourage people to welcome the Olympic flame and cheer on the inspirational torchbearers who will carry it.”

Bank of Scotland National School Sport Week has been taking place this week and finishes on Friday.

It is Scotland’s biggest school sport event with over 1,800 schools and half a million pupils taking part, staging their own Games.

Find out more at School Sport Week website