On the June 27th, at roughly 7:34am, I was the only person in the world to be carrying the Olympic torch.
It all started a couple of months ago with an email telling me that I had been nominated by my younger sister. It said:
“My sister Lara has been profoundly deaf since December 1992, since just two months before her third birthday. As her younger sister I don’t remember a time before she was deaf but what I do remember is how much of an inspiration she has been to me growing up. Not once did or does she now ever complain, rather I never fully realized just hard it was for her sometimes.
Now we’re older and closer I see just how much of a struggle it can be sometimes. Deafness is a hidden disability so sometimes it’s hard to see or understand the amount of difficulties it can open you up to. But she has never let anything hold her back. She tackles every obstacle with such an amazing strength and I know that she can do anything she sets her mind to.
Lara has never let anything hold her back, she passed her driving test first time and worked her way up the first professional level of scuba-diving; Dive Master. Not stopping there, Lara recently starred in a four part drama that aired on BBC1, then going on to play the main part in a drama – My Song from which she won Best Actress in the Clin d’Oeil festival in France. She worked unbelievably hard to get where she did, which is why I am so proud that I can say that at just 21 my sister is an award-winning actress.
I believe that my sister deserves to be a torchbearer as I know that she is an incredible role model. Her strength and passion are such inspiring traits that if anyone is proof that you can achieve your dreams no matter what, she is.”
Getting this email was brilliant; it was sweet and made me smile, so you could only imagine my reaction when I read that I had been selected to be one of the 8,000 torchbearers. Unbelievable!
On the same day I got the email, I vowed that I would start training so that I wouldn’t make a fool out of myself on the big day. Time passes by. I kept telling myself that ‘I will train tomorrow’ but tomorrow never came. The 27th of June did!
I woke up at stupid o’clock (3:15) after managing to calm my brain enough to go to sleep at 2am. I wasn’t really aware, I just threw my jeans and my white top on. I didn’t want to put the uniform on as I didn’t trust myself to leave the farm without a trace of mud.
When we (me, my little sister and my mum) were near to the meeting point, I panicked a bit and got changed into the uniform under the safety cover of a coat.
In the briefing, we were told that nobody had tripped, at which point, the very same person who nominated me told me that I could easily change that. She certainly does know how to make me less nervous (!)
Before I knew it, I was on a bus with the other torchbearers. One by one, they all got off the bus at their starting point, ready to have a memorable run, before it was just me and one other torchbearer (who was just lovely – they all are!)
By this point, I was worried that I would not be able to wave as I had waved so much through the windows of the bus to the crowd. I felt like the Queen (but not as calm).
My heart stopped for a moment when the bus stopped at my starting point. The man got my torch and handed it to me outside of the bus. Amazing.
The crowd were brilliant. I took many photos with the public as well as some of my family and friends who were there for support.
After a short amount of time, a man came up to me and told me what I was to do when the other torchbearer arrived. As we were running slightly late, he told me that it would be great if I could do at least four miles per hour.
Remember when I said I never trained? I never regretted it as much as I did in that moment!
But he did tell me to enjoy it – and I did.
It was over before I knew it but I remember every move I made, every step I took and every wave I waved.
The crowd was amazing and I almost couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the other torchbearer in front of me. It felt as if I just took a step and I was there.
I will never forget that morning.
Lara Steward is 22 years old, an actor (My Song, The Silence) with a pet shop. She loves goat milk and cookies so someday, she will own nanny goats and hire a baker to make cookies 24/7. Greenfield Pet Shop is based in Hibaldstow, North Lincolnshire. For more info on Lara, check out her website: http://larasteward.com/
The Limping Chicken is supported by Deaf media company Remark!, training and consultancy Deafworks, provider of sign language services Deaf Umbrella, the National Deaf Children’s Society’s Look, Smile Chat campaign, and the National Theatre’s captioned plays.