Warwick students welcomed the official 2012 Olympic torch to campus on Wednesday. The NUS Olympic Tour Bus spent the afternoon parked on the piazza offering students the opportunity to have their photograph taken with the iconic torch as part of a four-week tour of universities in the run-up to next year’s Olympic Games.
Warwick was one of only 20 Students’ Unions to be selected for the tour and was described by sponsors Coca-Cola as “the busiest and best campus so far.” The goal of the nationwide tour is to search out ‘Future Flames’: inspirational students to become torchbearers for the Olympic Torch Relay during the London 2012 Games.
Students formed an enormous queue in the cold for their chance to hold the torch, many of whom were disappointed to still be queuing when the torch had to leave.
A couple of third year students near the front said they had been waiting about an hour to have their souvenir photograph taken.
“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and it’s great to get involved because it’s on campus,” one of them said.
A number of pupils from a nearby secondary school also visited the piazza and torch during the afternoon.
The piazza proved the ideal venue to mark the occasion, offering some of Warwick’s teams the opportunity to promote their clubs. Lacrosse and netball (both yet to receive the status of Olympic sports) were amongst the sports clubs who held demonstrations and tutorials.
Lacrosse President Amy Martin said: “The ELA (English Lacrosse Association) has been working really hard to promote lacrosse and get more people playing what is still considered to be a relatively unknown sport. Having the torch here is great publicity for both our club and the sport we love.”
Also on the piazza were the Warwick Snow surfing simulator and tour sponsors Coca-Cola, who provided free cans of Coke.
However, large groups of students waiting in line to have their pictures taken with the torch were greeted by ‘Killer Coke’ protestors who were handing out flyers containing information about alleged crimes committed by the soft drinks company. The flyer listed accusations concerning aggressive marketing, labour abuses and exploitation.
Celebrations continued into the evening as over 600 students attended the Carnival on the piazza, featuring performances from Classic Modern Dance, Salsa, Bollywood, the Afro-Caribbean Society, Latin and Ballroom, Pole Dancing, Echo Dance and Cheerleading. Warwick Athletics and Cross-Country Club also ran 2012 minutes around campus to celebrate the event. For those still buzzing with Olympic fever, the night was wrapped up with an Olympic party in the Terrace Bar and an Olympic-themed POP!
Sports Officer Chris Sury said: “I’m so happy with how it went… it’s such an exciting year to be Sports Officer – we want to take full advantage of the Olympics and encourage people to get more involved with sports. The Olympic Torch was a really good way to kick off the year in style.”
He praised the hard work of the sports committee and all the clubs and societies involved in helping to make the event such a success. “It was great to have so many different vibes, cultural mixes and dance styles to really celebrate the Olympic values.”
Chris gave particular mention to Warwick’s Olympic Ambassadors Tom Riding and Jill Hocking, whose hard work helped win Warwick’s bid to host the Olympic Torch.
Their goal for the Olympic year is not just to get students involved with sports on campus but also to work closely with the local community in spreading the Olympic spirit including working with local primary