Saxmundham: Town feels snubbed by Olympic Torch rejection

OLYMPIC torch relay organisers have come under fire after locals were totally overlooked for the three-stage run through their Suffolk town.

Selectors spurned the nomination that was put forward by Saxmundham Town Council for 17-year-old Ryan Church to carry the torch through his home town, choosing instead to offer the privilege to candidates from Norwich, Bury St Edmunds, and Warboys, in Cambridgeshire.

One Saxmundham resident said she felt the town had been ignored by the London 2012 Organising Committee (LOGOC), responsible for allocating 8,000 torchbearers to 300-metre slots on an 8,000 mile route.

The town council welcomed the arrival of three worthy torchbearers on July 5 but admitted its frustration at the committee’s apparent disregard for the local nomination.

Parish clerk Maddie Gallop said: “We are very disappointed that Ryan was not selected. It’s unfair to see celebrities carrying the torch in place of local people who deserve to be given the chance.

“We submitted an application online with Ryan’s story and didn’t even get a reply.

“Ryan turned his life around and is now chairman of the local youth council. He is a local young man made good and a fine example for the youth of Saxmundham.”

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London-based LOGOC has also faced criticism in other parts of the country where local runners have been told they must run in areas up to an hour away from their home towns and villages.

But a spokeswoman said each torchbearer was selected purely on merit and not based on geography.

She added: “Saxmundham is very kindly hosting the torch relay but that doesn’t mean people from the town were chosen to be torchbearers.

“The nomination process was open to everyone in the UK and all application stories were considered by local panels.

“This seemed the fairest way to choose, and it was surely appropriate to allow everyone the chance to carry the torch.

“Stories were considered in September and October, before the route was finalised at the end of the year.

“It would have been wrong of us to put people through based on where they live.”