THE OLYMPIC Torch arrived at the University of Northampton, as part of the Coca-Cola NUS tour on Friday 28th October 2011. The University of Northampton Students’ Union was the only Students’ Union in the whole of the East Midlands to be selected to host the event, fighting off some of the UK’s finest higher education sporting institutions.
Students and the public alike had the opportunity to have their picture taken with the iconic 2012 torch, the queue stretching into the hundreds throughout the entire day.
Students' Union President Tim Joaquim said on the day "It’s been a major coup for the Students' Union this year to bring the torch to our members and the wider community, it didn't seem that long ago when Steve Durning, Vice President, submitted the application to Coca Cola and I never doubted that it wouldn't be well received."
The event, which took place at Park Campus, gave students at the University the opportunity to sample sports and get into the spirit of the 2012 Olympic Games. The Students' Union also extended a warm welcome to the local community, in order to mark the launch of Northamptonshire’s Sports Makers campaign a wide range of different activities were on offer from archery and wheelchair basketball to stick fighting and a zumba fitness class.
Dr Stuart Alan, Leader in Sport, Exercise and Life Sciences at the University of Northampton, said: “The University is really embracing the Olympics. We’re helping to bring the community together, which is great.”
A number of local organisations also attended to provide taster sessions for the public to participate in. Local sports clubs were able to promote themselves, and build up links with university teams and the wider population of Northamptonshire. A member of the Wellingborough Phoenix Basketball Club said: “Sport is a great leveller; it’s a great way to break down barriers.”
The entire day was reflective of the work of the Students' Union, who are placing great emphasis on improving the student experience at the institution. The number of students participating in sport has risen sharply under the guidance of the Student Activities Coordinator Roger Weston. "If we can embrace the excitement and interest shown for the upcoming Olympics and increase the variety and quality of sport we offer at the SU I can see us reaching fantastic figures in terms of participation, that’s the legacy the Olympics could leave here in Northampton and it hasn't even started yet!"
Members of the Northampton Town Football Team were also seen wandering around the event and when asked what impact they thought the day might have on the local community and the role they currently play within the community one member stated: “We are a community club and it’s important for us to be in the centre of the community…we take great pride in turning youngsters who are local children into professionals.”
It’s not just the Northampton Town Team who are keen to emphasise the importance of bringing our youngsters into sport. Felicity Drake is a member of ‘Sport Makers’ an organisation which focuses on recruiting young people as volunteers to help at the Olympic Games and other sporting events around the country. Felicity said that the aim of her presence at the event was to “inspire more people to get involved."
After an inspired day the Students' Union held a fireworks display that sent the torch on its way with a bang! Callum Wood, Vice President, had organised for the British Firework Champions MLE to put together a display that could round off an extraordinary day. "I had to somehow try and match a day that was inevitably going to be a huge success. I got in touch with MLE, because their reputation in the industry is second to none." Callum’s instincts were on the money, the fireworks were awe inspiring and held the crowds at Park Campus for a few more hours, whilst the celebrations continued at the Students’ Union into the early hours of the morning.
BY ROSALIND COOKE