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Blind Dave carries Olympic torch


12:36 31st May 2012

'Blind Dave' and Seamus enjoy momentous day

LIFELONG Baggies fan 'Blind Dave' Heeley this morning carried the Olympic torch through the streets of Stoke-On-Trent.

'Blind Dave', who has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for charity and is an ambassador for the Albion Foundation, admitted before his big day it was an 'honour and a privilege' to be selected for the relay.

Last year Dave completed his Top2Toe challenge, in which he ran ten marathons and cycled more than 800 miles from John O'Groats to Land's End in only ten days, in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support. 

And in 2008 he became the first blind person to run seven marathons in seven days on seven different continents. 

But Dave insisted running a leg of the Olympic torch relay is one of the highlights of his athletic career. 

"It is an honour and a privilege to be involved and I think that everybody, including the other 7,999 people, must all feel the same," he said.

"It is never going to happen to me again.

"I'm never going to see an Olympic Games in this country again and I'm never, ever, going to be able to carry the Olympic torch again."

And Dave, 54, who is well known for his long-distance fundraising efforts, hoped to break another record while running his 300-metre leg of the relay. 

"It's going to be the shortest run I've ever done and I'm going to try and break the record for the slowest 300 metres ever," Dave joked.

"The idea is that the security will help me, but I ran the 300 metres with Seamus my guide dog.

"Unfortunately, it was really difficult to get a running partner sorted and even my wife was not allowed to run it with me."

Dave's original application to run a leg of the relay was turned down, but organisers overturned their decision after nearly 2,500 people joined a Facebook group set up by Sandwell Council, urging organisers to reconsider. 

"I was initially turned down, but then Sandwell Council and especially Council Leader Darren Cooper, plus a lot of other people in the area campaigned and, low and behold, I was found a little space," Dave explained.

"And how fantastic is that?

"Sandwell Council were heavily involved and I'm certain that their involvement helped them reconsider me."

And Dave believes there is a hint of irony to an Albion fan running a leg of the Olympic torch through Stoke in the season the Baggies ended a near-30-year wait for a win on Potters soil. 

"I guess it was just the luck of the draw that I happened to get a leg in Stoke," he added.

"I was told that Tony Pulis will be setting off the Stoke leg.

"It takes a good Baggie boy to run through Stoke with the torch.

"I think I'm the third person to run the relay with a guide dog so it's nice for a Baggies fan to make it a hat-trick.

"Instead of an Odemwingie hat-trick against the Wolves it's a Seamus hat-trick for guide dogs in the Olympic torch relay!"

When asked what he planned to do with his Olympic torch, Dave replied: "Some people have got their own agendas and I know people have sold theirs on eBay.

"My feeling is that if somebody is going to sell it for a charity and get some money for that charity then I think that's absolutely fantastic.

"But I can't see the sense in someone taking part in such a prestigious event and letting that torch go.

"That is going to be a piece of me, a piece of my family and more importantly, because people rallied behind me and were determined to get me on the relay, it's part of the region and the community.

"A couple of the schools have already asked me whether I would bring it in to show them - and I've told them I'd love to.

"It's never going to happen again and I want to pass mine down through my family."

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