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Dereham grandad to run with Olympic torch in Lancashire after address mix-up

PUBLISHED: 06:30 21 June 2012

John Richardson is to run a leg of the Olympic Torch relay in Lancashire. Picture: Ian Burt

John Richardson is to run a leg of the Olympic Torch relay in Lancashire. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant © 2012

Lifelong runner John Richardson will be fulfulling a dream of carrying the Olympic torch tomorrow – but will have to travel to the other side of the country for his 300 metres of fame due to a computer glitch.

The 58-year-old, from Vienna Walk in Toftwood, Dereham, known as the running grandad, will be taking part in the torch relay in Fleetwood, Lancashire, which is a five-and-a-half-hour car journey from his home.

He was nominated by grandson Harry Monument, nine, from Thorpe St Andrew, near Norwich, because of his commitment to Dereham Runners and the weekly 5km Norwich park run events at Eaton Park.

The former Fleet Street employee was one of the 8,000 people selected by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) to be a torchbearer.

John, who has four children and six grandchildren, said: “They [LOCOG] said my address came up as Vienna Walk, Dereham, Lancashire, but I can get a Friday night in Blackpool so it isn’t too bad. It could have been the Shetland Islands, or further north.

“I thought it was going to be in Norwich and I rang them [LOCOG] up but they said I couldn’t change it. I thought for about 10 seconds but it was too good an opportunity to miss.

“I never dreamt I would be picked. I’m not one to push myself forward – it came as a complete shock. There must be people who are more deserving than me, such as soldiers and other heroes. I just support the local athletics club.”

Supporting John in Fleetwood will be Harry, his granddaughter Thea Monument, five, daughter Julia Monument, 32, and son-in-law Philip, 37.

A lifelong Olympics fan, John was inspired to start running after watching the first London Marathon in 1981.

After running several half-marathons and marathons, John set himself a challenge when he was 50 years old to complete 100 half-marathons by his 60th birthday and has so far run 93.

John, who will be an Olympic volunteer in London, said about the event: “I wasn’t around in 1948 and I don’t think I will be around when the Olympics comes to our shores again.

“I think it is the greatest sporting event to happen in my lifetime,” he added.

The next in our series of London Calling supplements in the build-up to the Olympic Games is in the EDP on Wednesday, June 27.

sophie.wyllie@archant.co.uk

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