Look At It This Way with Rob Stocks

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The Olympics is coming to Blackpool – hurrah.

Okay, so they’ve not decided to move the men’s 100m final to Stanley Park or the coxless fours to Fairhaven Lake but even so, the torch relay is a big deal.

Up to now there are many of us, myself included, who have felt a little bit divorced from the whole Olympic dream.

Sure, I could have handed over my bank account details to Seb Coe and his mates in return for back row seats at the ladies’ weightlifting – but that’s happening all the way down in London.

By the time you’ve added up tickets, hotels, travel and a few Olympic snacks and souvenirs it’s probably cheaper to book a long weekend in Greece including, if one was so inclined, a day trip to Olympia.

Yes, they’re playing football in Manchester and sailing on the Solent but there’s no doubt the Olympics is London’s games.

When we northerners put in for the big prize (remember Manchester’s dalliance with an Olympic bid) it was knocked back before the IOC even got a sniff.

I’m not one of those who believe we shouldn’t be paying to host the Olympics.

It is after all an excuse to indulge in some national pride (one thing Brits seem to be a little embarrassed about these days), show we can still cut it on the world stage and bring in a bit of wonga in the process. But it all seems a very long way away, down in the big smoke where £50 for a ticket, if stereotypes are to be believed, is more loose change than a good chunk of earnings.

That’s where the torch comes in. As important as athletics, cycling, swimming or golf (where did that one come from?) the torch is the embodiment of the Olympic spirit.

It is lit in Greece and doesn’t go out until the games close – unless there’s a particularly nasty breeze on the Prom next June.

Bringing the torch to somewhere like Blackpool – and for that matter Cardiff, Bristol, Belfast or Bowness, makes us all feel part of the occasion.

Seeing the torch pass through, on the way to London (via a route reminiscent of my Dad’s fly-drive holiday planning) will be a once in a lifetime opportunity. That’s why I know where I’ll be on June 22 next year – enjoying my own little bit of Olympic history.

I have no doubt it’ll be a real night to remember.

Oh, and if they’re looking for a short podgy bloke to do the honours – I’m their man!

l Jacqui Morley is away and will return next week