THOUSANDS of alarm clocks bleeped extra early this morning as hordes of Sheffielders flocked to Don Valley to catch the Olympic torch passing through the Steel City.
As early as 6.30am schoolchildren, teachers, parents, dancers, cheerleaders and sportspeople starting to descend on Don Valley for a glimpse of the torch.
Stephanie Battey, aged 45, from Darnall, was possibly the earliest riser. “I was up at 3.40am to make some Olympic bits and bobs like the torch for my five-year old daughter,” she said. “We were all really, really excited to come. I felt quite emotional and I’ve been yelling, ‘Come on Sheffield’!”
Joanne Layon, 37, from Waterthorpe, said: “I watched the torch previously on telly but we had to come here because it’s something we will never see again. We haven’t got tickets for any of the events in London because it’s too far, but this is fantastic.”
Vicky Glover travelled from Beighton to Don Valley and said: “We are really excited to be here. We got up at 4am so we could all be here in time for the torch.
“It’s actually a bit emotional too. It’s so good that we have the Olympics in this country this year - we had to come and watch this.”
Debbie and Paul Hobson, from Dronfield, had been up since 6am.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience - definitely worth getting out of bed for,” said Paul.
“I’m definitely going to cry,” said Debbie.
But there were no tears from the hundreds of children - only screams of excitement - as Lucy Brunt, 14, from Seven Hills School ran past holding the Olympic flame aloft.
Lucy was involved with the Sheffield Within Reach disability sport project last year and regularly takes part in sport sessions in school and in the community. Her coaches say is ‘a little star’ - always integrating with other children in true Olympian spirit.
Among the children running behind her was Liam Fisher, 11, whose mother, Kelly, 32, watched proudly from the crowd.
“I was so proud and Liam was so excited about running behind the torch bearer he couldn’t get to sleep last night - he’s been up all night but it was well worth it,” she said. “The atmosphere here has been brilliant.”
Frank Reardon, 35, from High Storrs, was at Don Valley as a teacher with Woodthorpe Primary School. “The children have been incredibly excited,” he said. “We’ve got our own Olympics at Woodthorpe and each class has been given a country to raise global awareness, so coming to this is great for the children.”
Woodthorpe brought more than 50 children to Don Valley - an organisational exercise that was no mean feat for the school’s head of PE, Nicola Milburn.
The 24-year-old said: “This is just fabulous for the children but it’s taken a lot of time to organise - we’ve had to send so many letters out confirming that children could come and to remind parents to bring them to school early.
“But the Olympics is really good for the children and we’ve been teaching them ‘Olympic values’ such as friendliness and aspiring to excellence.”