Two of Staffordshire's Olympic Torch bearers revealed as corporate runners from outside the area
TWO of Staffordshire’s Olympic Torch bearers were corporate runners from outside the area, nominated by one of the event’s main sponsors, it has been revealed.
The Olympic Torch Relay, which passed through the county on May 30 and May 31, has been hailed as a chance for local heroes to run with the flame through their own communities but torch bearers Tom Foley and Christos Angelides, who carried the flame through Stafford, were in fact nominated by sponsor Adidas.
Mr Foley, whose hometown is listed on the London 2012 website as Dickens Heath, near Solihull, is the UK general manager of sports retailer Intersport, while Mr Angelides, whose hometown is also listed as Solihull, is the Product Director of clothes retailer Next.
The revelation raises concerns that some inspirational figures from the community have been overlooked in favour of those with corporate links to sponsors.
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Julie Berrisford, 47, the mother of the Stoke-on-Trent teenager and young athlete James Taylor, who had been due to carry the torch through Stafford until he was banned by organisers who refused to give a reason, called the revelations “disgusting.”
“It just shows it’s not what they know it’s who they know.
“We’re still waiting for answers as to why James was not allowed to carry the torch.
“I have not even watched anything to do with the torch because I just get so upset.”
Both Mr Foley, 43, and Mr Angelides, 49, also have identical “nomination stories” on the London 2012 website.
They reference carrying the torch on behalf of Adidas and having “been engaged in the business of sport for a number of years,” however the entry gives no details of any specific charity or community involvement.
Among hundreds of other executives across the country to be given the chance to run with the flame is Stoke-on-Trent Adidas IT worker Ross Banks, 34, who will run a stretch of the relay through Huddersfield on June 24.
On the London 2012 website, Mr Banks’s profile is personalised and reads: “He is a keen and committed athlete specialising in tennis and running, who has a real passion for his chosen sports.”
A London 2012 spokesman said: “Staging the Olympic Games is a huge undertaking and we couldn't do it without the support from our commercial partners.
"The rights packages for some partners include a small number of torchbearer places that had to be filled through internal campaigns.
"The same torchbearer-selection criteria applied across the whole relay, i.e. personal bests and/or contribution to the community, but it could be, in a small number of cases, that some of the shorter summaries supplied do not quite do individuals justice."
No one from Adidas was available for comment.